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Full text of "Early English proverbs, chiefly of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with illustrative quotations"

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JOHN WYCLIF 
From the portrait at Balliol College, Oxford 



E ^LY 
ENGLISi. PROVERBS 

CHIEFLY OF THE THIRTEENTH AND 
FOURTEENTH CENTURIES 

WITH ILLUSTRATIVE QUOTATIONS 
COLLECTED BY THE 

REV. WALTER W. SKEAT 

LiTT.D., D.C.L., LL.D., Ph.D., F.B.A. 

ELRINGTON AND BOSWORTH PROFESSOR OF ANGLO-SAXON 
AND FELLOW OF CHRtSx's COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE 



' I telle somewhat more 
Of Proverbes than ye han herd before, 
Comprehended in this litel tretis here.' 

Chaucer, C. T., B 2145-7, 
' He would speak truth ; 
And proverbs, you '11 confess, are old-said sooth.' 

Tzuo An^ry Women of Abington, A. i, Sc. 7. 



OXFORD 
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS 

19 10 ^ <J ;^ 



V 1 



A V 



y 



HENRY FROWDE, M.A. 

PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD 

LONDON, EDINBURGH, NEW YORK 

TORONTO AND MELBOURNE 






^5 



5 



CONTENTS 



Preface 

List of Books Quoted 

Old English Homilies 
Layamon's Brut .... 

A.NCREN RlWLE .... 

The Owl and the Nightingale 
The Proverbs of Alfred . 
Cursor Mundi .... 
The Lay of Havelok the Dane 
King Alisaunder .... 
The Proverbs of Rending . 
Robert Mannyng, of Brunne 
Piers the Plowman . . ' . 
The Bruce : by John Barbour . 
Confessio Amantis: by John Gower 
Geoffrey Chaucer 
John Wyclif 



Notes 

Index of Proverbs 



page 

V 
XV 



3 
8 

13 

17 
20 

2^ 

25 

28 

39 

42 

52 
54 

127 

131 
141 



a 2 



PREFACE 

If it be true, according to the proverb, that ' good 
wine needs no bush,' there is not much necessity for 
a lengthy introduction to the present collection. 
I have simply endeavoured to gather together such 
Middle- English Proverbs as happen to have attracted 
my attention. I do not pretend that the collection is 
exhaustive, but it gives a fair idea of the use of proverbs 
in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, sufficient to 
show that many of those with which we are still 
familiar are met with at a rather early date. No 
example has been admitted that is later than the 
year 1400. 

I can find no clear proof that the bulk of them, or 
even a large number of them, were already familiar to 
our ancestors in the days before the Norman Conquest. 
Indeed, most of our Old English writings contain 
nothing of the kind. On this point the reader may 
consult Kemble's work entitled ' Solomon and Saturn,' 
in which the subject is considered ; at p. 257, we read 
that 'proverbs, strictly so called, are very rare in 
Saxon books, their authors being for the most part 
more occupied with reproducing in English the wisdom 



VI 



PREFACE 



of the Latins, than in recording the deep but humorous 
philosophy of our own people.' At pp. 258-269 of 
the same work, Kemble published a short collection 
of ' Anglo-Saxon Apothegms,' with a translation. 
They are eighty in number, but not one of them has 
a familiar ring.^ Of those in the present collection, 
I know of only three that are as early as the tenth 
century, viz. nos. 3, 26, and 158. No. 3 occurs in 
Thorpe's edition of ^Elfric's Homilies, ii. 106; but it 
is really of Biblical origin, being merely translated 
from Ecclus. iii. 30. No. 26 occurs in an Anglo- 
Saxon homily entitled Be Gecyrrednysse (Concerning 
Conversion) in the form — ' Nu-|?a sceal aelc mon, |>aet 
he to Gode ge-cyrre p'a hwile ]>e he maege, ]>e laes, git 
he nu nelle ]7a hwile \& he maege, eft j^onne he late 
wille, ]?aet he ne maege ' ; i.e. Now ought every man to 
turn to God while he may, lest, if he will not now (do 
so) while he may, afterwards, when he at last will, he 
may not {Archiv filr das Stitdinni dei'- neueren 
Sprachen, cxxii. 259). The explanation is easy ; for, 
as Max Forster points out, the homily in question 
is little else than a translation from a sermon by 

' Two proverbs occur in the A.S. Chronicles, under the dates 1003 
and 1 130; but neither is now in use. The first is — Donne se heretoga 
waca'5 })onne biO call se here swide gehindred; i.e. when the leader is 
cowardly, then will all the army be greatly hindered. The second is — 
Man seiff to biworde, hrege sitteS J)a aceres dseleth ; i. e. they say by 
way of proverb, ' hedge abides that fields divides.' This seems to be 
the only passage in which the A.S. biword, 'a by-word,' 'a proverb,' 
occurs. 



PREFACE vii 

St. Augustine, and the above proverb runs, in the 
original Latin, as follows : — ' Corrigant se, qui tales 
sunt, dum vivunt, ne postea velint et non possint '. 
{Opera^ ed. Migne, xxxviii. 1095.) 

The third example (158) is more satisfactory ; for it 
refers to the same idea as that expressed in the Anglo- 
Saxon Gnomic Verses i. 17 (ed. Grein) : — ' efen-fela 
bega, jjeoda and ]7eawa,' i. e. an equal number both of 
countries and customs. This is, in fact, one of the 
favourite proverbs that are well known in most of the 
European languages, as, for instance in German, Dutch, 
English, Danish, Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian, Latin, 
French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, in more than 
sixty forms. 

It will be seen that the first three Proverbs, as well 
as nos. 89, 247, and 284, are taken from very early 
twelfth -century Homilies ; and this suggests that one 
of the ways in which proverbs wxre formerly popu- 
larized was by their use in sermons delivered in the 
vernacular. It is also fairly evident that others were 
at the same time in use by Norman writers, and were 
either of French origin, or furnished French parallels 
to native sayings. The number of proverbs in the 
present collection which have French originals or 
equivalents is at least forty-six^ ; and many of these 
must have been taken from Latin sources. 

Many proverbs have equivalents in other languages, 

' For the list see under ' Cotgrave ' and ' French Proverbs ' in the 
List of Books Quoted, 



viii PREFACE 

so that it is frequently diflScult if not impossible to 
trace them. But it is clear that there were two prin- 
cipal sources whence they were either introduced or 
reinforced. One of these was the Latin or \'^ulgate 
version of the Bible (including the Apocrypha), whilst 
others were taken from well-known classical authors 
or from ' fathers ' of the early church. 

Of Biblical proverbs, there are fully fifty, ^ of which 
seventeen are from the Proverbs of Solomon (so called), 
and thirteen from the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus, 
which in the Middle Ages was far better known than 
it is at present. It must certainly sometimes happen 
that similar expressions occur in different authors 
independently. Thus no, 24 may have been suggested 
by Gut fa cavai lapidein in Ovid ; but it may equally 
well be derived from Lapides excavaiit aqiiae^ the 
Vulgate version of Job xiv. 19. The latter must be 
one of the earliest proverbs known. 

Such as are possibly due to classical sources are 
mostly from the famous poets, Ovid, Horace, Virgil, 
Terence, Plautus, Claudian, Juvenal, Lucan, and 
Propertius may account for about thirt)^-seven ; and 
others may be found in Cicero, St. Augustine, St. 
Jerome, and Pope Innocent III. Three are from the 
Disticha Moralia of Dionysius Cato, an obscure 
writer of uncertain date, and two are from the Sentcn- 
tiae of Publilius (otherwise Publius) Syrus, At least 

' See under ' Bible' in the List of Books Quoted. 



PREFACE ix 

three (nos. 135, 212, and 283) are ultimately Greek; 
and one (no. 257) is almost certainly Old Norse, as it 
seems to be peculiar to Icelandic. 

A few may fairly be ascribed to the Latin of the 
Middle Ages, but we must in this case make a careful 
distinction. For some of these medieval Latin proverbs 
are nothing but vernacular proverbs translated into 
Latin. Their very form sometimes reveals this ; as 
when, for instance, no. 71 appears as a hexameter 
in the form — 

Luscus praefertur caeco ; sn tmdique fertur. 

Here the last three words are added as a mere tag, to 
make up the line. Or ag^in — 

Ut dicunt inul/i\ cito transit lancea stulti (139). 

These monkish lines can usually be detected by their 
artificial attempt at internal rime, as in these two 
cases. 

Similar in character are — 

Scintillae propriae sunt mihi deliciae (75). 

Me vult vitalem qui dat mihi rem modicalem (80). 

De cute non propria maxima corrigia (86). 

Pomum compunctum cito corrumpit sibi iunctum (239). 

Fallere, flere, nere dedit Deus in muliere (267). 

Nevertheless, nos. 206 and 260 may be credited to the 
Libey Parabolarwu of Alanus de Insulis, or Alain de 
Lille, a French author of the twelfth century. 

It will be seen that our Proverbs have been selected 



X PREFACE 

from the following books, which seemed to present 
themselves as being most likely to furnish examples, 
viz. : The Old English Homihes, edited for the Early 
English Text Society by Dr. Morris ; Layamon's 
Brut, a translation of a poem by Wace ; the Ancren 
Riwle ; the Owl and Nightingale ; the Proverbs of 
Alfred ; the Cursor Mundi ; Havelok ; King Ali- 
saunder; the Proverbs of Hending; Robert Mannyng's 
Handlyng Synne ; Langland's Piers the Plowman ; 
Barbour's Bruce ; Gower's Confessio Amantis ; and 
the works of Chaucer and Wyclif All quotations of 
a later date than 1400, the date of Chaucer's death, are 
given solely by way of illustration. The Old English 
Homilies go back to the twelfth century ; with this 
exception, every example belongs either to the 
thirteenth or to the fourteenth century. 

I have examined many other works, nearly all ot 
them poems, belonging to the same centuries, without 
succeeding in finding even a solitary example of 
a proverbial character. But my search has been hasty, 
and I may have missed some here and there ; I doubt, 
however, whether I have missed many. I cannot even 
be quite sure that I have included all the examples 
that occur in the books which I have enumerated 
above. I find, for example, ten Proverbs in the Citrsor 
Minidi\ but, as that poem extends to more than 
20,000 lines, it is quite possible that it may contain 
a dozen. It is curious that the editor (at p. xx) gives 
ov\yfo7ir examples, viz. nos. 44, 45, 141, and 226. 



PREFACE xi 

The general arrangement is in a chronological order ; 
but this has not been altogether adhered to. Thus, 
under the heading ' Cursor Mundi,' I give, at pp. 20, 2 1 , 
only four of the ten Proverbs found there. Of the rest, 
one of them is used to illustrate no. 123 (in Piers 
Plowman), 2^^^ the remaining five to illustrate Chaucer 
(nos. 141, 226^ 244, 246, 286), This is a much more 
interesting mode of arrangement, as the alternative 
was to use Chaucer's proverbs to illustrate those in 
the CtiJ^sor Mznidi. It seemed desirable to give all 
the Chaucerian examples together, inasmuch as they 
considerably exceed in number all the rest. They are 
especially numerous in Troihis and Cressida, which 
contains nearly 70, of which at least 25 are given to 
Pandarus, who is much given to offering sententious 
advice. It is somewhat surprising to find that at 
least a dozen are put into the mouth of Cressida, 
who has excellent verbal devices for concealing her 
fickleness. 

i It is not always easy to know what constitutes 
a proverb. Some sententious phrases are merely 
quotations, and not generally known. Thus, in TroilnSy 
i. 960, we find : — '"'" 

But he that parted is in every place 

Is no-wher hool \whole\ as writen clerkes wise. 

This is evidently quoted from some authority, but 
I find it nowhere else ; nor do I know its origin. 
I have chiefly been guided in this matter by the occur- 



xii PREFACE 

rence of similar quotations in other authors. It is for 
this reason, chiefly, that I have given so many illus- 
trative quotations ; indeed, it is often extremely 
interesting to find how familiar some of these wise 
saws are even at the present day. At least 1 1 of 
them occur in Sir Walter Scott's novels, while 
Shakespeare has no less than 55, the Shakespeare 
Apocrypha has at least 15, and 64 appear in other 
dramatists, as Beaumont and Fletcher, Chapman, 
Greene, Marlowe, Massinger, Peele, and Webster. And 
of course all these numbers are very much understated. 
I only note such as I have observed after but slight 
search ; it would be easy to add to the number. It 
may interest the intelligent reader to do this for 
himself. 

I subjoin a List of Authors Quoted, and give, in 
every case, a list (indicated by their numbers) of the 
Proverbs which they illustrate. It is often very in- 
teresting to observe the sayings with which different 
authors were most familiar. 

I also add, at the end, a sufficient Index of the 
Proverbs themselves, briefly expressed. Each is 
indexed under its leading word, or (in some cases) 
under two leading words, with cross-references. 

The modern forms of the Proverbs are mostly given 
as in Hazlitt's large collection. Of older collections, 
the one most worthy of mention is that by John 
Hey wood, which first appeared in 1546, of which 
there are modern reprints, by J. Sharman in 1874, 



PREFACE 



xin 



and by J. S. Farmer in 1906. The most interesting 
collection is that by John Ray, which first appeared in 
1670, and went through several editions ; the fourth 
edition, that of 1768, being much augmented. Ray 
frequently gives an equivalent Proverb in French, 
Italian, or Spanish, which is of course very helpful. 
It would have been easy to crowd the present small 
volume with equivalent Proverbs in many languages ,' 
but this work has been already done so efficiently that 
I have contented myself by a mere reference to ' D.', 
by which I mean the Sprichworter collected by Ida 
von Diiringsfeld and Otto Freiherrn von Reinsberg- 
Diiringsfeld, printed at Leipzig in 18 72, in two volumes, 
(See D. in the Book-list.) Vol. i contains 960 Proverbs, 
numbered from i to 960 ; and vol. 2 contains "j^^^ 
numbered from i to 765. Thus, at p. 19, under no, 41, 
I refer to D. i. 879, i. e. the 879th Proverb in the first 
volume. The fullness of information thus afforded is 
amazing; we find there 10 equivalent sayings in 
German, beginning with ' Katzenkinder mausen gern ' ; 
8 in Dutch, beginning with ' Kattenkinderen vangen 
graag muizen'; i in English, viz., ' That that comes 
of a cat, will catch mice ' ; 3 in Danish, beginning 
with ' Hvad det er af Katteslaegt, muser gjerne ' ; i in 
Icelandic; i in Norwegian: 2 in Swedish; 5 in 
medieval Latin, beginning with ' Catorum nati sunt 
mures prendere nati ' ; i in Romaunsch ; 6 in French 
(4 of which are dialectal), beginning with ' Qui naquit 
chat, court apres les souris ' ; 1 1 in Italian (9 dialectal), 



xiv PREFACE 

beginning with ' Chi di gatta nacque, topi piglia ' ; 
I in Portuguese — ' O filho de asno huma hora no dia 
orneja ' ; 5 in Spanish — ' El hijo de la gata ratones 
mata,' &c. ; and i in Wallachian. Each of these is 
accompanied by a German translation ; and they are 
all indexed. Moreover, there are Supplements. 

The frontispiece is reproduced, by permission, from 
the portrait of Wyclif at Balliol College. 

I confess that the present unpretentious volume was 

written for my own information and amusement. 

I hope it may interest others. 

Cambridge, 

Oct. 13, 1909. 



LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED 

The Early English Text Society is denoted by E. E. T. S. ; 
and the English Dialect Society by E. D. S. The numbers 
appended to each title refer to the numbers of the Proverbs. 

Alfred ; see Proverbs. 

Alliterative Poems, Early English; ed. R, Morris, 1864. 

(E.E. T. S.) 227,288. 
Ancren Riwle ; ed. J. Morton. Camden Soc, London, 1853. 

16-27 ; 70, 151, 283, 287, 292. And see note to 21. 
Andrewes, Bp. L. ; Sermons (163 1). 187. 
Arden of Fevershame ; in the Shakespeare Apocrypha, q.v. 

249, 293. 
Augustin, St. ; see note to 231. 
Ayenbite of Inwyt ; ed. R. Morris, 1866. (E. E. T. S.) 95, 106, 

147, 239, 258, 286. 

Bacon, Lord : Essays; ed. W. A. Wright. London, 1871. 155, 

298. 
Barbour's Bruce ; ed. W. W. Skeat, 1870-89. (E. E. T. S.) 62, 

67 ; 127-129 ; 148, 176. 
Barclay, Alexander: The Ship of Fools ; ed. T. H. Jamieson. 

Edinburgh and London, 1874. 115. 
Barham, Rev. R. H. ; Ingoldsby Legends. 176. 
Beaumont and Fletcher, Works of; ed. G. Darley. London, 

1859. 2 vols. 155, 159, 220, 224, 278, 289, 299. And see 

notes to 21, 117, 119, 152, 155, 196, 206, 215, 229, 262, 266. 
Beket, Life of; ed. W. H. Black. London, 1845. (Percy 

Soc.) 245, 
Beryn, The Tale of; ed. F. J. Furnivall, 1876. (Chaucer Soc.) 

67, 69, 83, 96, 153, 154, 225, 246, 286. 



xvi LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED 

Bible ; The Authorized Version. Leviticus, lo ; Job, 24 ; 
Psalms, II, 31, 59, 237 ; Proverbs, 13, 14, 17, 33, 38, 42, 57, 
65, 66, 79, 113, 193, 243, 244, 245, 250, 254; Ecclesiastes, 
151, 222 ; Ecclesiasticus, 3, 9, 42, 46, 62, 64, 73, 79, 97, 243, 
254, 271, 294 ; Tobit, 62 ; 3 Esdras (Vulgate), 96 ; Matthew, 
15,106,118; John, 30; Acts, 143; Romans, 7; I Corinthians, 
31 ; Galatians, 236 ; I Thessalonians, 63 ; i Timothy, 299. 
And see notes to 20, 24, 26, 39, 62. 

Burton, R. : The Anatomy of Melancholy ; 13th ed. London, 
1827. 2 vols. 151,218,229. 

Butler, S.: Hudibras ; ed. A. Milnes. London, 1881-3. 2 vols. 
72, 190, 289. And see notes to 117, 169, 189. 

Camden, W.: Remaines concerning Britain; ed. 1657. 279, 292. 

Cato, Dionysius ; Disticha Moralia. 174,197,237. 

Caxton, W. : Recuyell of the Hystoryes of Troye ; reprint by 

H. O. Sommer. London, 1894. 2 vols. 161. 
Reynard the Fox; reprint by E. Arber. London, 1878. 

233- 
Chapman, G., The Plays of; ed. R. H. Shepherd. London, 

1874. 114. And see notes to 60, 123, 155, 158, 161, 176, 

186, 233. 
Chaucer, Geoffrey, Works of; ed. W. W. Skeat. Oxford, 1894. 

6 vols. 5, 10, 20, 25, 37, 44, 48, 52, 58, 59, 64, 104, 135-295, 

297, 301. Vol. 7 contains Chaucerian and other Pieces. 
Chevelere Assigne; ed. H. H. Gibbs. 1868. (E. E. T. S.) 47. 
Cicero. 230 ; and note to 127. 
Claudian. 242. 
Cotgrave, Randle : A French and English Dictionary ; London, 

1660. (A late edition.) 1, 22, 45, 56, 60, 86, 89, 93, 100, 103, 

109, 114, 117, 137, 141, 146, 149, 150, 153, 157, 158, 162, 164, 

196, 201, 207, 216, 252, 261, 266, 273, 274, 279, 280, 286, 296. 

And see French Proverbs. 
Court of Love, The ; printed in Chaucerian and other Pieces, 

q. V. 175. 



LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED xvli 

Cowley, A., Poems of. 258. 

Crowley, R.: Select Works ; ed. J. M.Cowper. I 872. (E.E.T.S.) 

126. 
Cursor Mundi ; ed. R. Morris. (E.E.T.S.) 44-7; 123, 141, 

226, 244, 246, 286. 

D. — Sprichworter der germanischen und romanischen 
Sprachen, vergleichend zusammengestellt von Ida von Dii- 
ringsfeld und Otto Freiherrn von Reinsberg- Diiringsfeld. 
Leipzig, 1872. 2 vols. (Often.) 

Debate of the Body and Soul ; in the Poems of Walter Map, 
ed. T. Wright. Camden Soc, London, 1841. 166. 

Douglas, G., Works of ; ed. J. Small. Edinburgh, 1874. 4 vols. 
279. 

Earle, John ; Micro Cosmographie. 1628. Reprint by E. Arber, 

1869. 22. 
Eden, R. : The first three English Books on America ; ed. Arber, 

1885. 181. 
Everyman (old play). 241. 

French Proverbs. 67, 74, 79, 80, 93, 127, 206, 219, 275, 285. 

Many more occur in Cotgrave, q. v. 
Froissart's Chronicles. 228, 273. 
Fuller, T. ; The Holy and Profane State. London, 1841. 129. 

Gamelyn, The Tale of; ed. W. W. Skeat. Oxford, 1884. 83. 
Gascoigne, G., The Complete Poems of; ed. W. C. Hazlitt. 

London, 1869. 2 vols. See notes to 130, 269. 
German Proverbs. 78,261,284,285. And see refs. marked ' D '. 
Gosson, S. ; The Schoole of Abuse (1579). Reprint by E. Arber, 

1868. 130. 
Gower, John, English Works of; ed. G. C. Macaulay. Oxford, 

1901. 3 vols. 34, 56, 66, 123; 130-4; 155, 189, 197, 205, 

209, 226, 227, 237, 288. See notes to 67, 79. 

SKEAT. E. E. P. C) 



xviii IJST OF BOOKS QUOTED 

Greene, R., Plays and Poems of; ed. J, Churton Collins. 
Oxford, 1905. 2 vols. 24, 26, 39, 43, 103, 119, 161, 179, 213, 
233, 234- 

Hampole, R. Rolle de: The Pricke of Conscience ; ed. R. Morris. 

London, 1863. (Phil. Soc.) 292. 
Hardyng, John : Chronicle ; ed. H. Ellis. London, 1812. 56. 
Havelok the Dane, The Lay of ; ed. W. W. Skeat. Oxford, 

1902. 48-57 ; 148, 179- 
Hazlitt, W. C; Early Popular Poetry of England. London, 

1864. See under various headings, and see notes to 40, 132, 

290. Also 130. 
English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases. London, 1869. 

4, 5, 6, &c. 
Hending, The Proverbs of; in Altenglische Dichtungen des 

MS. Harl. 2253, ed. K. Boddeker. Berlin, 1878. 46; 

67-95; 139, I55> 158, 226, 245, 286. 
Henryson, R. : Robene and Makyne ; in Specimens of Middle 

Scots ; ed. G. Gregory Smith. Edinburgh and London, 

1902. 26. 
Herbert, G. : Works ; ed. 1859. 236, 280. 
Heywood's Proverbs, &c., 1562. (Cited by Hazlitt.) I, 25, 29, 

63, 85, 100, 104, 119, 131, 133, 140, 157, 198, 213, 238, 269, 

272. 
Higden, R. ; Polychronicon. (Record Publications.) 265. 
Hislop, A. ; The Proverbs of Scotland. Third edition. Edin- 
burgh, n. d. 6, 13, 22, 26-7, 29, 34, 40, 45, 50, 60, 64, 67, 71, 

74-S> lly 82, 84, 86-7, 89, 92, 98, loo-i, 113, 123, 132, 148-9, 

155, 160-1, 165, 167-9, 175-6, 178, 196-7, 206, 208, 223, 226, 

234-6, 242, 248-9, 254, 261-2, 270, 275, 2S2, 288, 292, 295. 
Hoccleve, T. : De Regimine Principum ; ed. F. J. Furnivall. 

1897. (E. E. T. S. ; extra series.) 205, 228, 241, 289. 

Letter of Cupid ; in Chaucerian and other Pieces, q. v. 28. 

Holland, P.; translation of Pliny's Natural History. London, 

1634. 2 vols. 35,117. 



LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED xix 

Horace. 21, 23, 69, 127, 167, 244, 258, 283, 291. And see 

notes to 67, 240. 
How the Good Wife Taught her Daughter ; in Hazlitt's Early 

Popular Poetry, q. v. 42, 50, 53, 85. 

Icelandic Proverb. 257. 

Innocent III, Pope (1161-1216); De Contemptu Mundi. 62, 

249. 
Italian Proverbs. 41, 127, 155, 163, 194, 220. 

Jerome, St. 199, 277, 285. 

Jonson, Ben ; Every Man in his Humour. See note to 123. 

Joseph of Arimathie; ed. W. W. Skeat. 1871. (E. E. T. S.) 

276. 
Juvenal. See note to 39. 

Kemble. See Salomon. 

King Alisaunder ; in vol. i. of Weber's Metrical Romances. 

Edinburgh, 1 810. 3 vols. 58-66 ; 155, 263. 
King Edward III (a play) ; see Shakespeare Apocrypha. 145, 

288, 292. 

Latin Proverbs and verses (chiefly medieval). 69, 71, 75, T], 79, 

80, 86, 101, 103, 109, 139, 161, 176, 195, 206, 209, 210, 213, 

216, 221, 226, 235, 239, 242, 248, 249, 260, 263, 265-7, 

270, 277, 283-4. 
Layamon's Brut ; ed. Sir F. Madden. Soc. of Antiquaries, 

London, 1847. 3 vols. 4-15. 
Locrine (a play) ; see Shakespeare Apocrypha. 126, 155, 189. 

And see notes to 2, 24, 43, 60. 
London Prodigal], The; in the Shakespeare Apocrypha, q.v. 

286. 
Longfellow. 58, 135. 
Lucan. 179. 
Lydgate, John : The Assembly of Gods ; ed. O. L. Triggs^ 1896. 

287. 



XX LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED 

Lydgate, John : Minor Poems ; ed. J. O. Halliwell. Percy Soc, 

London, 1840. 25, 235. 
Poems printed in Chaucerian and other Pieces ; ed W. W. 

Skeat. Oxford, 1897. 255, 267. 
Secrees of Philosoffres ; ed. R. Steele, 1895. (E. E. T. S.) 

132. 
The Storie of Thebes ; printed with Chaucer's Poems ; ed. 

Stowe. London, 165 1. Folio. 204. 
The Temple of Glas ; ed. J. Schick, 1891. (E. E. T. S.) 

154,269. 

The Troyboke. London, 1555. 274, 288. 

Lyly, John ; Alexander and Campaspe (a play), 15S4. 250. 
Euphues (1581-2) : ed. E. Arber, 186S. 2, 24, 114, 117, 

120, 124, 152, 179, 183, 188, 196, 233, 297. 

Malcontent, The (a play by Marston and Webster; see 

Webster). 189, 218. 
Malory, Sir T. ; Morte Darthur. Reprint of Caxton's edition ; 

ed. H. O. Summer. London, 1889-91. 3 vols. 116. 
Man in the Moon, The ; in Altenglische Dichtungen, q. v. 214. 
Mannyng ; see Robert. 
Marlowe, C, The Works of; ed. Lt.-Col. F. Cunningham. 

London, 1870. 152, 197, 215, 246, 282, 287. 
Massinger, P., The Plays of; ed. Lt.-Col. F. Cunningham. 

London, 1868. 6. And see notes to 119, 170, 182. 
Montgomerie, A., The Poems of; ed. J. Cranstoun. Edinburgh 

and London, 1886-7. (Scottish Text Soc.) 189. 
Mucedorus; in Shakespeare Apocrypha, q. v. 161. 

Old English Homilies ; ed. R. Morris. Series L, 1867. 

(E. E. T. S.) 1-3 ; 89, 247, 284. 
Old English Miscellany; ed. R. Morris, 1872. (E. E. T. S.) 

95, 125- 
Oldcastle, Life of Sir John. 262. See Shakespeare Apocrypha. 
Otvvay, T., Plays of. 179. 



LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED xxi 

Ovid. 7, 24, 137, 162, 185, 186, 197, 200, 220, 240, 243, 255, 

258, 267. 
Owl and Nightingale ; ed. T. Wright. Percy Soc, London, 

1843. 28-35 ; 36, 72, 81, 83, 131, 136, 195, 231, 283, 290. 

Parlament of Byrdes ; see Hazlitt's Early Popular Poetry. 85. 
Peele, G., Dramatic and Poetical Works of ; ed. Rev. A. Dyce. 

London, 1883. (Together with the Works of R. Greene.) 

39, 126, 197, 223, 247. 
Pierce the Ploughman's Crede ; ed. W. W. Skeat. Oxford, 

1906. 209. 
Piers of Fulham ; in Hazlitt's Early Popular Poetry, q. v. 39. 
Piers Plowman ; ed. W, W. Skeat, In three texts. A, B, 

and C. (E. E.T. S.) Also at Oxford, 1886; 2 vols. 25; 

103-123 ; 151, 154, 166, i£o, 181, 197, 211, 223, 227, 231, 237, 

245, 249, 260, 276. 
Plautus. 176, 261. 
Pliny ; see Holland. 

Political Poems and Songs ; ed. T. Wright. (Record Publica- 
tions.) 1859-61. 2 vols. III. 
Political Songs; ed. T. Wright. 1839. (Camden Soc.) 123. 
Propertius. See note to 226. 
Proverbs of Alfred ; ed. W. W. Skeat. Oxford, 1907. 9, 15; 

36-43; 69, 73, 78, 79> 83, 92, 94, 95, 139, 195, 226, 257, 284, 

293. And see notes to 6, 20. 
Publilius Syrus. 210, 248. 
Puritain Widowe. 273. See Shakespeare Apocrypha. 

Queene Elizabethes Achademy ; ed. F. J. Fumivall. 1869. 
(E. E. T. S. ; extra series.) 103. 

Ray, John ; A Compleat Collection of English Proverbs. Fourth 
edition. London, 1768. 4, 36, 41, 47, 75, 88, 91, 115, 127, 
194, 209, 221, 236, 285. 

Reinke de Vos (Reynard the Fox) ; ed. K. Schroder. Leipzig, 
1872. 30. 



xxii LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED 

Reliquiae Antiquae ; ed, Wright and Halliwell. London, 1841-3. 

2 vols. 67, 112, 121, 209, 271. 
Richard Coer dc Lion ; in Weber's Metrical Romances. London, 

1 810. 3 vols. 269. 
Richard the Redeless ; printed at the end of Piers Plowman, 

q.v. 25, 121 ; 124-6; 177. 
Robert Mannyng of Brunne, Handlyng Synne ; ed. F. J. Furni- 

vall. 1901. (E.E. T.S.) 3, 25, 26, 31, 42, 93; 96-102; 

159, 176, 262, 292, 294, 295. 
Robinson, R. : tr. of More's Utopia; repr. by E. Arber, 1869. 

300. 
Roman de ia Rose; ed. Meon. Paris, 1S13. 4 vols. 136, 1S5, 

199, 212, 220, 270. 
Romaunt o.f the Rose; in Chaucer's Works, vol. i. 61, 139, 

180, 237, 240, 286. 
Ros, Sir R. : La Belle Dame sans Merci ; in Chaucerian and 

other Pieces, q. v. 236. 

Salomon and Saturn ; ed. J. M. Kemblc. London, 1848. 
(/Elfric Society.) 41, -]"], 206. 

Scott, Sir W. ; The Waverley Novels, i, 27, 28, 82, 130, 150, 
213, 238. And see notes to 62, 158, 282. 

Shakespeare Apocrypha, The ; ed. C. F. Tucker Brooke. 
Oxford, 1908. (Contains Arden of Feversham, Locrine, King 
Edw. 1 1 1, Mucedorus, Sir John Oldcastle, The London Prodigall, 
and eight other plays.) 

Shakespeare, W., Works of. The Globe edition. London, 
1864. 20, 24, 60, 82, 92, 105, 112, 114, 120, 137, 139, 142, 
144, 145, 147^0, 162, 164, 167, 169, 170, 178, 18324, 186, 188, 
190, 192, 199-201, 206^ 209, 213, 217, 218, 221, 222, 229, 238, 
246, 251, 260, 278, 280-2, 284, 289, 294, 295, 297. 

Sir Eglamour ; in the Thornton Romances, ed. J, O. Halliwell. 
London, 1844. (Camden Soc.) 217. 

Sir John Oldcastle ; in the Shakespeare Apocrypha, q. v. 261. 

Skelton, J.: Poetical Works: ed. A. Dycc. London, 1843. 



LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED xxiii 

2 vols. 25, 28, 39, 114, 214, 231, 246, 276, 289, 300. And see 

notes to 79, 240. 
Spanish Proverbs (from Ray, &c.). 161, 166, 242, 277, 
Spenser, E., Works of; ed. R. Morris and J. W. Hales. London, 

1869. 22, 24, 100, 137, 154, 182, 194, 220, 

Taylor, Bp. Jeremy, The Works of. London. 117. 

Tennyson. 137. 

Terence. 189, 279, 283. 

Towneley Plays (or Mysteries) ; ed. G. England and A. W. 

Pollard. 1897. (E. E. T. S. ; extra series.) 88, 173, 190. 

And see note to 91. 
Tristrem, Sir ; ed. G. P. McNeill. Edinburgh and London, 

1885-6. 53. 
Tusser, T. ; Five Hundred Pointes of good Husbandrie. (E. D. S.) 

1878. See notes to 103, 127, 176, 190. 
Two Angry Women of Abington (old play). 290. And see 

notes to 155, 176, 196, 221. 

Udall, N. : Royster Doyster; reprint by E. Arber, 1869. 187, 

206. 
translation of the Apothegmes of Erasmus. Boston, 1877. 

273- 
Usk, T. : Testament of Love ; printed in Chaucerian and other 
Pieces, q.v. 83, 126, 132, 148, 154, 155, 158, 164, 171, 172, 
182, 184, 204, 206, 207, 290. And see' notes to 148, 187. 

Vincent of Beauvais. 256. 

Virgil. 35, 189, 197. And note to 240. 

Wace ; Roman de Brut. 56. 

Walker, Dr. ; Paraemiologia, 1672. (Cited by Hazlitt.) 23,112. 

Warner, W., Albion's England, 1586. Repr. in Chalmers, 

English Poets. 302, 
Webster, John, The Works of; ed. Rev. A. Dyce. London, 



xxiv LIST OF BOOKS QUOTED 

1857. 43, 102, 169, 197, 235, 246, 259, 282, 289. And see 

Malcontent. 
Wiat, Sir T., Poems of; in Tottel's Miscellany (1557). Reprint 

by E. Arber, 1870. 103, 136. 
William of Palerne ; ed. W. W. Skeat, 1867. (E. E. T. S. ; 

extra series.) 105. 
Wyclif,].: Select Prose Works; ed. T. Arnold. Oxford, 1869-71. 

3 vols. 143, 296-8, 300-1. And see note to 79. 
Prose Works, hitherto unprinted ; ed. F. D. Matthew. 

(E. E. T. S.) 1880. 294, 299-302. And see notes to 118, 173, 

204, 211. 
Wyclififite Versions of the Bible ; ed. Rev. J. Forshall and Sir F. 

Madden. Oxford, 1850. 143. 

York Mystery Plays ; ed. Lucy T. Smith. Oxford, 1885. 276. 



OLD ENGLISH HOMILIES 

There are two Series of these, edited by Dr. Morris 
(E. E. T. S.). Those in the First Series may (for the most 
part) be dated about A. D. 1175, and those in the Second Series 
about 1200. I have noted in these the occurrence of the follow- 
ing Proverbs, or sayings that may have been proverbial, in 
addition to three that are quoted (further on) in illustration of 
Hending and Chaucer ; see nos. 89, 247, 284. 

I 

Hwa is thet mei thet hors wettrien the him-self nule 
drinken ? (Who is he that may water the horse and 
not drink himself?) — Old Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, 
Ser. I, p. 9. 

A man male well bring a horse to the water, but he cannot 
make him drinke without he will.— Heywood (1562) ; pt. i. c. 11. 

On ne fait boire ct Pasne quatid il ne vent. — Cotgrave, s. v. 
Asne. 

Ae man may bring a horse to the water, but twenty wunna 
gar him drink. — Scott, Heart of Midlothian, ch. 26. D. ii. 761. 

2 

A lutel ater bitteret muchel swete. (A little venom 
embitters much sweetness.) — Old Eng. Homilies., ed. 
Morris, Ser. i, p. 23. 

One droppe of poyson infecteth the whole tunne of wine. — 
Lyly, Eiiphues, p. 39. 



SKEAT. E. K. P. 



2 OLD ENGLISH HOMILIES 

3 

Al swa thet water acwencheth thet fur, swa tha 
elmesse acwencheth tha sunne. (As water quenches 
fire, so almsgiving quenches sin.)— Old Eng. Homilies^ 
ed. Morris, Ser. t, pp. 37, 39. 

Almes fordoth alle wykkednes 

And quenchyth synne and makyth hyt les. 

Rob. of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 7079. 
From Ecclus. iii. 30 ; whence it is also quoted in ^Ifric's 
Homilies, ed. Thorpe, ii. 106. 



LAYAMON'S BRUT 

Of the poem called The Brui, written by Layamon, there are 
two texts. The earlier has been approximately dated about 
1205, and the later about 1275. I note the following examples 
in the edition by Sir F. Madden. 

4 

Nis nawer nan so wis mon 
That me ne mai bi-swiken. 

Layamon, vol. i, p. 32. 

{Nis nawer. There is nowhere ; 7ne, one ; biswiken, deceive.) 

Nis nauer nan mon 

That me ne mai mid swikedome ouer-gan. 
Layamon, vol. ii, p. 211. 
Here the later text has : — 

Thar nis no man so wis 

That me ne mai bi-swike 
(that one may not deceive). 

None is so wise, but the fool overtakes him (Hazlitt). 
Wise men are caught in wiles (Ray). D. i. 928. 

5 

For the mon is muchel sot 
The nimeth to him-seoluen 
Mare thonne he mayen walden. 

Layamon, vol. i, p. 278. 
B 2 



4 LAYAMON'S BRUT 

(For the man is a great fool who taketh upon himself more 
than he can manage.) 

He that grasps at too much, holds nothing fast (Hazlitt). 
Cf. Chaucer, Proverbs, 7 ; see no. 146. 

6 

Ful so[t]h seide the seg 
The theos saye talde : 
Yif thu ileuest aelcne mon, 
Selde thu saelt wel don. 

Layamon, vol. i, p. 342. 

(Very truth said the man who told this saw : If thou believest 
every man, seldom shalt thou do well.) 

Believe a' ye hear, an' ye may eat a' ye see. — Hislop. 

[Do not all you can.] . . . believe not all you hear. — Hazlitt ; 
p. III. 

Believe as you list (i.e. what you please). — Massinger (title 
of a play). 

7 

Whilen hit wes iseid 

Inne soth spelle : 

That moni mon deth muchel uvel 

Al his unthankes. 

Layamon, vol. i, p. 353. 

(Once it was said in true speech, that many a man doth much 

evil all against his will.) 

Video meliora proboque ; 

Deteriora sequor. 

Ovid, Afet. vii. 20. 

What I hate, that do I.— Rom. vii. 15. 



LAYAMON'S BRUT 5 

8 

Hit wes yare i-que^en : 
That betere is liste 
Thene ufel strenthe. 

Layamon, vol. ii, p. 297. 

(It was said of yore, that better is art than evil strength.) 
See below, no. 195. 

9 

He wes than yungen for fader, 
Than alden for frouer ; 
And with than unwise 
Wunder ane sturnne. 

Layamon, vol. ii, p. 413. 

(He was as a father to the young, a comfort to the old, and 
wonderfully stern to the foolish.) 

Cf. Fader be thu with child ; 
The arme gin thu froueren. 

Prov. oj Alfred^ 592. 
(Be father to the child, and comfort the poor.) 
See Ecclus. iv. 10. 

10 

^uere me aehte wisne mon 
Wurthliche igreten. 

Layamon, vol. ii, p. 518. 

(One ought always to greet worthily a wise man.) Cf. Levit. 
xix. 32 ; quoted in Chaucer, C. T., C 743. 



6 LAYAMON'S BRUT 

II 

Swa deth auer-alc raon 

The other luuien con. 

Yif he is him to leof, 

Thenne wule he liyen, 

And suggen on him wurthscipe 

Mare thenne he beo wurthe. 

Layamon, vol. ii, p. 541. 

(So doth every man that can love another. If he is too dear 
to him, then will he lie, and say of him more honour than he is 
worth.) Cf. Ps. xii. 2. 

12 

Me con bi than aethe 
Lasinge suggen, 
Theh he weore the bezste mon 
The aeuere stt at borde. 

Layamon, vol. ii, p. 542. 

(One can say falsehood concerning an enemy, though he 
were the best man that ever ate at board.) 

13 

For idelnesse is luther 
On aelchere theode ; 
For idelnesse maketh mon 
His monscipe leose. 
Idelnesse maketh cnihte 
For-leosen his i-rihte, &c. 

Layamon, vol. ii, p. 624. 

(For idleness is evil in every land ; it makes man lose his 

manhood ; it makes a knight lose all his rights.) Cf. Prov. xix. 15. 



LAYAMON'S BRUT 7 

Idleness teacheth much evil. — Ecclus. xxxiii. 27. 
Idle young, needy auld. — Hislop, Scot. Proverbs, Cf. D. ii. 
112; i. 449. 

For god is grith, and god is frith. 

Layamon, vol. ii, p. 626. 

(Good is security, and good is peace.) Safety is of the 
Lord.— Prov. xxi. 31. 

15 

Iwurthe thet iwurthe 
Iwurthe Godes wille. 

Layamon, vol. iii, p. 297. 

(Happen what may, God's will be done.) 

Wurthe that iwurthe, 

Iwurthe Godes wille. 

Prov. of Alfred, 571. 
Fiat uoluntas tua. — Matt. vi. 10. 



ANCREN RIWLE 

The Ancren Riwle, or Rule of Anchoresses, of uncertain 
authorship, was written about 1225, and was edited by J. Morton 
for the Camden Society in 1853. It contains four proverbs that 
illustrate Chaucer (nos. 151, 283, 287, 292) and one cited under 
no. 70 ; and also the following. 

16 

Ofte a ful hawur smith smeothith a ful woe knif. — 
Ancren Riwle^ p, 52. 

(Often a full dexterous smith forges a very weak knife.) 

17 

Lif and death (seith Salomon) is ine tunge honden. — 
Ancren Riwle, p. 74. 

(Life and death, says Solomon, are in the power of the tongue.) 
From Prov xviii. 21. 

18 

Me seith ine bisawe :— Vrom mulne and from 
cheping, from smithe, and from ancre huse, me 
tithinge bringeth.— ^?2^;'^;/ Riwle, p. 88. 

(One says in a proverb : From mill and market, from smithy 
and from nunnery, people bring tidings.) 

19 

Euer is the eie to the wude-leie, ther-inne is thet ich 
luuie. — Ancren Riwle, p. 96. 

(Ever is the eye (turned) towards the grove, wherein is he 
whom I love.) Cf. D. i. 129. 



ANCREN RIWLE 9 

20 

Veond thet thuncheth freond is swike ouer alle 
swike. — A^icren Riwle^ p. 98. 

(An enemy that seems to be a friend is treacherous beyond all 
traitors.) 

What pestilence is more mighty for to anoye a wight than 
a familier enemy? — Chaucer, /r. of Boethius^hV. iii, pr. 5. 50. 
Cf. Chaucer's Merchant's Tale, E 1783-94. See Prov. xxvii. 6. 

God keep me from false friends ! — Rich. Ill, iii. i. 16. 

21 

Wreththe is a wodshipe. — Ancren Riwle, p. 120. 

Ira furor breuis est. 

Horace, Ep. i. 2. 62. 

22 

As me seith : — Thet coc is kene on his owune 
mixenne. — Ancren Rhvle^ p. 140, 

(As they say : The cock is brave on his own dunghill.) 

As cocke on his dunghill crowing cranck. — Spenser, Shep. 
KaL, Sept. 47. 

Chien stir son funiier est hardi, A dbg (we say, a cock) is 
valiant on his own dunghill. — Cotgrave. 

A cock 's aye crouse {spirited] on his ain midden-head. — 
Hislop, Scottish Proverbs. 

His land is the dunghill, and he the cocke that crowes over 
it. — Earle, Microcosmographie, ch. 17. 

23 

Euer so the hul is more and herre, so the wind is 
more theron.^ — Ancren Riwle., ^. 178. 

(The greater and higher the hill, the greater the wind on it.) 



lo ANCREN RIWLE 

Ever so herre tur, so haueth more wind. — Id. p. 226. 
(The higher the tower, the more wind it has.) 
Cf. Saepius uentis agitatur ingens 
Pinus, et celsae grauiore casu 
Decidunt turres. 

Horace, Carm. ii. 10. 9. 
Huge winds blow on high hills. — Walker (1672). D. i. 740. 

24 

Lutle dropen thurleth thene ulint thet ofte ualleth 
theron. — Ancren Riwle^ p. 220. 

(Little drops pierce the flint upon which they often fall ; from 
Job, xiv. 19.) 

And drizling drops, that often doe redound, 
The firmest flint doth in continuance weare. 

Spenser, Sonnet 18. 
And waste huge stones with little water-drops. — Rape of 
Lucrece, 959. 

In time we see the silver drops 
The craggy stones make soft. 

Greene, Song from Arhasto. 
The lyttle droppes of rayne pearceth hard marble.— Lyly, 
Etiphues, p. 127. 

Gutta cauat lapidem.— Ovid, ex Ponto, iv. 10. 5. D. ii. 480. 

25 

Euerich thing me mei ouerdon. Best is euer 
i-mete. — Ancren Rtwie, p. 286, 

(One may overdo everything. Moderation is always best.) 
The middel weie of mesure is euer guldene. — 
Id. p. 336. 

(The middle way of moderation is always golden.) 
Of alle wysdom that shal dure, 
The most wysdom than ys ' mesure '. 

Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne^ 6527. 



ANCREN RIWLE ii 

Mesure is medicyne though thow moche yerne. — Piers 
Plowman, B. I. 35. 

Mesure is a meri mene though men moche yerne. — Richard 
the Redeles, ii. 139. 
(mesure, moderation.) 

Yet mesure is a mery mene. — Skelton, Magnificence, 385. 
Measure is a merry mean, as this doth shew, 
Not too high for the pye, nor too low for the crow. 

Heyvvood, Proverbs ; ed. 1562 ; pt. ii. c. 6. 

Compare also the following : — 

An olde proverbe — ' mesour is tresoure '. — Lydgate, Minor 
Poems, p. 82. 

Men wryte of oold how mesour is tresour. — Id. p. 208. 

Measure is treasure. — Skelton, Magnificence, 126. See 
Chaucer, C Z., G 645 ; no. 283. 

26 

Hwo ne deth hwon he mei, he ne schal nout hwon 
he wolde. — Ancren Riwle, p. 296 ; and p. 338. 

(He that doth not when he may, shall not when he would.) 
Hyt ys seyd al day, for thys skyl, 
' He that wyl nat whan he may 
He shal nat, when he wyl.' 

Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 4795. 

The French original has : — 

Ki ne fet quant il peot, 
II ne fra quant il veut. 
(He who does not when he can, shall not do when he wishes.) 
Robene, thow hes hard soung and say. 

In gestis and storeis auld. 
The man that will nocht quhen he may 
Sail haif nocht quhen he wald. 

R. Henryson, Robene and Makyne, st. 12. 



12 ANCREN RIWLE 

Alph. No, damsel ; he that will not when he may, 
When he desires, shall surely purchase nay. 

Greene, Alphonsus, v. 3 ; 1. 1744. 
He that winna when he may, shanna when he wad. — Hislop. 

27 

Betere is er then to lete. — A iter en Riwle, p. 340. 

(Better is early {too soon] than too late.) 
Better soon than syne [/(?/^].— Hislop, Sco/. Proverbs. 
Better sune as syne— better a finger aff as aye wagging. — 
Scott, Rob Roy, ch. 18. See no. 287. 



THE OWL AND THE NIGHTINGALE 

The date of this poem is about 1250. It was printed by 
T. Wright for the Percy Society in 1843 ; and by Stratmann in 
1868. It contains several proverbs that occur in Handing and 
Chaucer (nos. 72, 81, 83, and 136, 195, 231, 283, 290); two 
others (nos. 36, 131) ; and also the following. 

28 

Dahet habbe that ilke best 
That fuleth his owe nest. 

Oivl and Nightingale^ 99. 

(A curse be upon that beast [creature, bird] that defiles his 
own nest !) 

An old prov^rbe seyd is in English : 
Men seyn — that bird or foul is dishonest, 
What that he be, and holden ful churlish, 
That useth to defoule his owne nest. 

Hoccleve, Lett e)' of Cupid., 183. 
How olde proverbys say, 
That byrd is not honest 
That fylythe his owne nest. 

Skelton, Against Garnesche, iii. 196. 
It 's an ill bird that files its ain nest. — Scott, Rob Roy, ch. 26. 
D. ii. 561. 

29 

Al-so hit is bi than ungode 
That is i-cumen of fule brode, 



14 THE OWL AND THE NIGHTINGALE 

And is meind wit fre monne : 
Ever he cuth that he com thonne, 
That he com of than adel eye 
Thegh he [in] a fre nest leie. 

Owl and Nightingale^ 1 29. 

(So it is said of the bad one that came of a foul brood, and is 
mixed up with free men ; he always shows that he came thence, 
and came of an addle ^^%, though he may lie in a free nest.) 
See no. 31. 
What is bred in the bone will not out of the flesh.— Heywood, 
The wolf may lose his teeth, but ne'er his nature. — Hislop, 
Scot. Proverbs. 

30 
He schuntet that hine w[e]l wot. 

Owl and Nightingale.^ 236. 

(Attributed to king Alfred. He shuns (the man) that knows 
him well.) 
Just above, at 1. 229, we find : — 

Vor evrich thing that schuniet right, 
Hit luveth thuster and hatiet light. 
(For everything that shuns what is right loves darkness and 
hates light.) Cf. John, iii. 19. 

De qu^t deit, de schuwet gern dat licht.— Reinke de Vos 
(Reynard the Fox), 25. 

(He who does evil, tries to avoid the light.) 

31 

That wit the fule haueth i-mene 

Ne cumeth he neuer from him cleine. 

Oivl and Nightingale^ 301. 
(He that hath communion with the foul man never comes 
away from him clean.) Attributed to king Alfred. 



THE OWL AND THE NIGHTINGALE 15 

Tharfore hyt ys a grete folye 
With cursed man haue cumpanye, 
Seynt Poule seyth, that moche wot. 

Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 6575. 
See I Cor. xv. 33 ; cf. Ps. xviii. 26. D. i. 583. 

32 

Nis no man for his bare songe 
Let, ne wrth noght suthe longe ; 
Vor that is a for-worthe man 
That bute singe noght ne can. 

Owl and Nightiiigale^ 571. 

(iV/V, is not ; Lef, dear ; ivrth^ will be ; siithe, very ; for- 
worthe^ degenerate ; bute, except ; noght, (S:c., knows nothing.) 
Compare the Fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant 

33 

Sel[d]e endedh wel the lothe, 
An selde plaidedh wel the wrothe. 

Owl and Nightingale, 941. 
(The hated man seldom ends well, and the angry man seldom 
pleads well.) Attributed to king Alfred. Cf. Prov. xiv. 17. 

34 

Wel fight that wel specth — seide Alvred. 

Owl and Nightingale, 1070. 
(He that speaks well, fights well.) 
Similar to : — 

For specheles may no man spede. — Gower, Conf. Amant. i. 
1293. 

He that spares to speak, spares to speed. — Hislop. See 
no. 131. 



1 6 THE OWL AND THE NIGHTINGALE 

35 

Yef thu i-slhst [him er] he beo i-cume, 
His strencthe is him wel neh bi-nume. 

Owl and Nightingale^ 1223. 

(If thou seest him [the foe] before he has come near, his 
strength is wellnigh taken from him.) A proverb attributed to 
king Alfred. 

There is here a mistaken and perverted reference to the 
Roman belief concerning wolves. Holland's Pliny (bk. viii. 
c. 22) has : — 'It is commonly thought in Italy, that the eyesight 
of wolves is hurtful, in so much as if they see a man before hee 
espy him, they cause him to lose his voice for the time.' This 
is alluded to in Virgil, Ed. ix. 54 ; Dryden's translation (1. 74) 
has : — 

My voice grows hoarse ; I feel the notes decay, 
As if the wolves had seen me first to-day. 



THE PROVERBS OF ALFRED 

A piece usually thus entitled was composed about 1275. It 
is a poem of a didactic order, containing some sentences that 
may fairly be called Proverbs, and several passages of instructive 
advice expressed at too great a length to deserve such a title. 
Hence I only cite some selected examples. It was first printed 
in the Reliquiae Antiquae in 1841 ; secondly, in Dr. Morris's 
Old English Miscelkmy, for the E.E. T. S., in 1872; and 
thirdly by myself, for the Clarendon Press, in 1907. These 
three editions contain both texts of the poem ; one of them was 
printed by Kemble, in 1848, in his work entitled The Dialogue 
of Salomon and Saturnus. Such of these Proverbs as illustrate 
Hending and Chaucer are quoted further on ; see nos. 69, Ti, 
78, 83, 92, 94, 95, and 139, 195, 226, 257, 284, 293. Two others 
have been quoted above ; see nos. 9, 15. 

36 

Hwych so the mon soweth, al svvuch he schal mowe. 

Prov. of Alfred, A 82. 
From Galat. vi. 7. 

That man schal erien an sowe 
Thar he wenth after sum god mowe. 

Owl and Nightingale, 1037. 
{erien, plough ; Thar he wenth, where he expects ; god, good 
crop.) 
As they sow, so let them reap (Ray). D. ii. 649. 

37 

Eueryches monnes dom to his owere dure churreth. 

Prov. of Alfred, A 84. 

(Every man's judgement returns to his own door.) Cf. Chaucer, 
C. T., I 620 ; see no. 293. 

SKEAT. E. E. P. C 



1 8 THE PROVERBS OF ALFRED 

38 

Wyth-ute wysdome is weole wel unwurth. 

Prov. of Alfred, A 119. 

(Without wisdom wealth is of little value.) 
How much better is it to get wisdom than gold !— Prov. xvi. 
16. Cf. no. 68. 

39 

Strong hit is to rowe ayeyn the see that floweth, 
So hit is to swynke ayeyn un-yhmpe. 

Prov. of Alfred, A 145. 

(Strong, hard ; swynke, St'c, to toil against misfortune.) 
In vain it is to strive against the stream.— Greene, Alphonsus, 
i. I ; 1. 142. 

It is in vain to strive with such a stream.— Peele, Battle oj 
Alcazar, iv. 2. 

Hard it is to stryve with wind or wawe, 
Whether it do ebbe or flowe. 
Piers of Fulham, 303 (Hazlitt, Early Pop. Poetry, ii. 13). 
He is not wyse ageyne the streme that stryuith.— Skelton, 
Garland of Laurell, 1432. Cf. D. ii. 407. 

40 

Ne wurth thu neuer so wod, ne so wyn-drunke, 
That euere segge thine wife alle thine wille. 

Prov. of Alfred, A '3,6<). 
{Ne wurth thu neuer, Never be ; ivod, mad ; That euere 
segge, as ever to tell.) He wha tells his wife a' is newly 
married.— Hislop. Cf. Prov. of Alfred, B 478-81. 



THE PROVERBS OF ALFRED 19 

/ 

For ofte museth the kat after hire moder. 

Prov. of Alfred^ A2^6. 
{museih, catches mice ; after, just like.) 

That that comes of a cat will catch mice. 
Chi di gatta nasce sorici piglia. — Ray. 
And see Kemble, Salomon and Saturn, p. 252. 
A chip of the old block. D. i. 879. From Aesop's Fables. 

42 

Beter is child unbore thane unbuhsum. 

Prov. of Alfred^ A 449. 

(unbore, unborn ; unbuhsiim, disobedient.) 
Better were the chylde unbore 
Than fayle chastysyng, and syththen lore. 

Rob. of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 4855. 
Cf. Prov. X. I ; xxiii. 24; Ecclus. xxx, 9. See no. 57. 
Better were a childe unborne than untaught.— //(?w the Good 
Wife taught; in Hazlitt, Early Popular Poetry, i. 192. 

43 

The bicche bitith ille 
Thauh he berke stille. 

Prov. of Alfred^ B652. 

{ille, severely ; he, she ; berke stille, bark quietly.) 

Barking dogs bite not the sorest. — R. Greene, George a Greene, 
A. iv. sc. 3. 903. 

The greatest barkers bite not sorest. — Ray, Proverbs. 

Cowardly dogs bark loudest.— Webster, White Devil; ed. 
Dyce, p. 22. D. i. 16, 171. 

C 2 



CURSOR MUNDI 

A poem of very great length, in the Northumbrian dialect, on 
the subjects of the Old and New Testaments. Edited by Dr. 
Morris for the E.E. T. S. The date is about 1300, I have 
noted only ten proverbs in it, though there may be more. I 
quote four of these here; one under no. 123 ; and five that 
illustrate Chaucer (nos. 141, 226, 244, 246, 286), 

44 

For hauk es eth — als I here say — 
To reclaym that has tint his pray. 

Cursor Mtindi, 3529. 

(For — as I hear say — it is easy to reclaim a hawk that has 
lost its prey.) Cf. Chaucer, C. T., A 4134 ; see no. 235. 

45 

Luken luue at the end wil kith. 

Cursor Mundi^ 4276. 

(Concealed love will show itself at last.) 
Love and a cough cannot be hid (Hazlitt). See no, 128. 
U amour, la tousse, et la galle ne se peuvent celer; Prov. ; we 
say, love and the cough cannot be hidden. — Cotgrave. 
Though ye tether time and tide. 
Love and light ye canna hide. — Hislop. D. ii. 46. 

46 

For qua bigin wil ani thing 
He aght to thine on the ending. 

Cursor Mundi, 4379* 

(For he who will begin a thing ought to think how it may end.) 

Cf. H ending, st. 2 ; see no. 6y. From Ecclus. vii. 36. D. i. 100. 



CURSOR MUNDI 21 

/ 

47 

He was hale sume ani trote. 

Cursor Mtmdi, 8150. 
(He was as whole as any trout.) 

Als a fische thou made me fere, 

7^.8175. 

(Thou madest me as whole as a fish.) 

Fyve cheynes I have, and they ben fysh-hole [i. e. completely 
good]. — Chevelere Assigne, 353. 
As sound as a trout (Ray). 



THE LAY OF HAVELOK THE DANE 

The date is about 1300. Edited for the E. E. T. S. in 1868, 
and for the Oxford Press in 1902, by W. W. Skeat. 

It contains ten proverbs, as below ; cf. also nos. 148, 179. 

48 

Hope maketh fol man ofte blenkes. 

Havelok, 307, 

(Hope often deludes the foolish man.) Cf. Chaucer, Troilus, 
\. 217 ; see no. 148. 

49 

For man shal god wille haue. 

Havelok^ 600. 
(For one ought to show good will.) 

50 

Ther God wile helpen, nouht ne dereth, 

Havelok, 648. 
(Where God will help, nothing does harm.) D. i. 635. 
Wele thryveth that God loveth.— //^w the Good Wife taught; 
in Hazlitt, Early Popular Poetry, i. 180. 

God helps them that help themselves.— Hislop, Scot. Proverbs. 

51 

Lith and selthe felawes be, 

Havelok, 1338. 
(Helpfulness and success are companions.) 



THE LAY OF HAVELOK THE DANE 23 

52 
Dwelling hath ofte scathe wrouht. 

Havelok^ 1352. 

(Delay has often wrought harm.) Cf. Chaucer, Troilus, iii, 
852 ; see no. 179. 

53 

He was ful wis that first yaf mede. 

Havelok^ 1635. 

(He was very wise who first gave a reward.) 

He was ful wise, I say, 

That first yave yift in land. 

Sir Trisirem, 626. 

Bounden he is that yifte takith.— /A^w the Good Wife taught; 
in Hazlitt, Early Popular Poetry, i. 185. 

54 

Wei is him that god man fedes. 

Havelok, 1693. 

(Well for him whom a good man feeds ; or rather, who feeds 

a good man.) See no. 55. 

55 

Wei is set, he etes mete. 

Havelok, 2036. 

(Well bestowed is the food that he eats.) 

56 

Old sinne makes newe shame. 

Havelok, 2461. 
De vielz peche novele plate— WdiCe, Roman de Brut (see note 
to Layamon, 979). 



24 THE LAY OF HAVELOK THE DANE 

Thus synnes olde make shames come ful newe. — Hardyng, 
Chron, c. 114, st. 18. 

Men sein — Old senne, newe schame.— Gower, C. A. iii. 2033. 
Vieiix peche fait fiouvelle Jionte. — Cotgrave. 

57 

Him stondes wel that god child strenes. 

Havelok^ 2983. 

(It is well with him who begets a good child.) A wise son 
maketh a glad father. — Prov. x. i ; xv. 20. See no. 42. 



KING ALISAUNDER 

The long romantic poem with the above title is printed in the 
first volume of the Metrical Romances edited by H. Weber, 
Edinburgh, l8io. The date of the poem is about 1300. In 
addition to the Proverbs quoted below cf. nos. 155, 263. 

58 

For Caton seith, thes gode techere, 
Other raanis lif is owre schewere. 

King Alls aunder^ 17. 

(Other men's lives are our example ; lit. our mirror.) 
Cf. Chaucer, C. T., D 180; see no. 263. 

Lives of great men all remind us 

We can make our lives sublime. 

Longfellow, Psalm of Life. 

59 

Soth hit is, in al[le] thyng, 

Of eovel lif comuth eovel eyndyng. 

King Alisauitder^ 753. 

(Of evil life comes evil end.) 

For clerkes sey[e]n, in wrytyng, 
That treson hath eovel eyndyng. 

Jd, 4733. 

Cf. Ps. cxl. II ; and Chaucer, C. T., B 1822 ; see no. 247. 

60 

Men tellen, in olde mone, 

The qued comuth nowher alone. 

Kiiig Alisatmder., 1281. 
{mone., remembrance. Evils do not come singly.) 



26 KING ALISAUNDER 

Malheur ne vient jamais seul, mischances never come single, 
one misfortune succeeds in the neck of another. — Cotgrave. 
When sorrows come, they come not single spies, 
But in battalions. — Hatnlet, iv. 5. 79. 
Hardships seldom come single. — Hislop. D. ii. 512. 

61 

Nultow never, late ne skete, 
A goshauk maken of a kete, 
No faucon mak[en] of busard, 
No hardy knyght mak of coward. 

King Alisaunder^ 3047- 

{Nultow, thou wilt not ; skete, quickly, soon ; kete, kite.) 

This have I herd ofte in seying — 
That man [ne] may, for no daunting, 
Make a sperhauke of a bosarde. 

Romaunt of the Rose, 4031. 
{sperhauke, sparrow-hawk; bosarde, buzzard.) Cf. no. iii. 

62 

More honour is, faire to sterve, 
Than in servage vyliche to serve. 

King Alisazinder, 3069. 

Melius est enim mori quam indigere. — Ecclus. xl. 28 {or 29). 

Expedit enim mihi mori magis quam uiuere. — Tobit, iii. 6. 
Cf. P. Plowman, C. ii. 144, xviii. 40. 

Melius est ergo mori uitae quam uiuere morti. — Innocent III, 
De Contemptu Mundi, i. 24. 

Thiyldome is weill wer than deid. — Barbour, Bruce, i. 269. 

(Servitude is even worse than death.) D. i. 179. 



KING ALISAUNDER 27 

63 

Hit is y-writein, every thyng 

Himseolf shewith in tastyng. 

King Alisaunder^ 4042. 
Omnia probate. — I Thess. v. 21. 

The proof of a pudding is in the eating.— Heywood's Proverbs. 
Try before you trust (Hazlitt), 

64 

Nis no day othir y-lyk. 

King Alisaunder, 6995. 

Cf. Chaucer, C. T., A 1539, which partly contradicts this. 
See no. 219. 

Why doth one day excel another ?— Ecclus. xxxiii. 7. 

65 

Beter is, lyte to have in ese 
Then muche to have[n] in malese. 

King Alisawider^ 7365. 

Cf. Prov. XV. 16. Little gear, little care.— Hislop, Scot. 
Proverbs. D. i. 182. 

66 

Who-so is of dede untreowe 
Ofte hit schal him sore reowe. 

King Alisaunder., 'J2,^'j. 

Cf. Prov. xi. 3, 5, 6, 7, &c. D. ii. 521. 

Given by Gower in a different form. 

The proverbe is, who that is trewe 
Him schal his while nevere rewe. 

C. A. vii. 1961. 



THE PROVERBS OF HENDING 

The collection called The Proverbs ofHending^ may be dated 
about 1300. In the first stanza the *wyse H ending' is called 
* Marcolves sone ' or the son of Marcolf, a mythical sage whose 
reputed sayings are discussed by Kerable in his work entitled 
The Dialogue of Salomon and Saturniis, the latter of whom 
Marcolf sometimes represented. My quotations are taken from 
Boddeker's edition of MS. Harl. 2253, entitled Altenglische 
Dichtungen, published at Berlin in 1878 (pp. 285-300) ; which 
I cite by the stanza. See also nos. 139, 155, 158, 226, 245, 286. 

67 

God beginning maketh god endynge. 

Hending, st. 2. 
Wei is him that wel ende mai.— Another version; Reliquiae 
Antiquae, i. 193. 

For qua bigin wil ani thing 
He aght to thine on the ending. 

Cursor Mundi, 4379. 
De bon commencement, bonne fin. — French proverb (cited by 
Matzner). 
Who take hede of the begynnyng, what fal shal of the ende, 
He leyith a bussh tofore the gap, ther Fortune wold in ryde. 

Tale of Beryn, 1788. 
For gude help is in begynnyng ; 
For gude begynnyng and hardy, 
And it be followit vittely, 
May ger oftsiss unlikly thing 
Com to full conabill endyng. 

Barbour, Bruce, v. 262-6. 
{And, if; vittely, wittily, wisely; ger oftsiss, make often; 
conabill, fitting, suitable.) 

Weel begun is half done. — Hislop. See no. 46. Cf. D. i. loi. 



THE PROVERBS OF HENDING 29 

68 

Wyt and wysdom is god warysoun. 

Hending, st. 3. 

{god warysoun, good provision or store.) Cf. no. i^, 

69 

Whose yong lereth, olt he ne leseth. 

Hending, st. 6. 

{lereth, learns ; olt (for old) ; he loses not when old.) 
Quo semel est imbuta recens seruabit odorem 
Testa diu. Horace, Epist. lib. i. ep. 2. 69-70. 

Cui puer assuescit, maior dimittere nescit. — Latin proverb. 
The mon the on his youhthe yeome leorneth 
Wit and wisdom, and iwriten reden, 
He may beon on elde wenliche lortheu \good teacher^. 
Proverbs of Alfred, A 100-5. 
For thing i-take in [youthe, is] hard to put away. — 71?/^ of 
Beryn, 938. D. i. 845. vSee no. 99. 

70 

Let lust ouer gon, eft hitshal the lyke. 

Hending, st. 7. 

(Let your desire pass away ; afterwards it will please you.) 
Let lust ouergon, and hit te wule liken. 

Ancren Riwle, p. 118. 

Betere is eye sor, then al blynd. 

Hending, st. 8. 
(Better for the eye to be sore, than to be all blind.) 
Luscus praefertur caeco, sic undique fertur. 

Quoted by Kemble, Salomon and Saturn, p. 281. 



30 THE PROVERBS OF HENDING 

Better ae e'e than hail-blind. — Hislop, Proverbs of Scotland, 
1868, p. 32. The third edition has — a' blind [all blind). 
(Better one eye than wholly blind.) D. i. 192. 

72 

Wei fyht, that wel flyth. 

Hending, st. 10. 

(Well fights he who well flies.) 

Wel fight that wel flight, seith the wise. 

Owl and Nightingale, 176. 
For those that fly may fight again, 
Which he can never do that 's slain. 

Butler, Hudibras, pt. iii, c. 3. 243. 
And see no. 136. 

73 

Tel thou neuer thy fo that thy fot aketh. 

Hending, st. 12, 
If thou hauest seoruwe, ne seye thu hit than arewe. 

Proverbs of Alfred, A 227. 
(If thou hast a sorrow (or pain), do not tell it to the bad- 
hearted man.) 

Open not thine heart to every man, lest he requite thee with 
,a shrewd turn. — Ecclus. viii. 19. 

Never trust thine enemy. — Ecclus. xii. 10. 
Ne'er tell your fae [foe] when your fit sleeps [foot is asleep]. — 
Hislop. 

74 

Betere is appel y-yeue then y-ete. 

Hending, St. 13. 

{y-yeue, &c. ; given than eaten.) 

Bettir is one appil i-yeuin than twain i-yeten. 

Hending (Cambridge MS.). 



THE PROVERBS OF HENDING 31 

Mieux vaut euf donn6 que euf tnangid. — Le Roux de Lincy, 
Prov. ii. 348. 
A bit is aften \often'\ better gi'en than eaten. — Hislop. 

75 

Este bueth oune brondes. 

Hending, st. 14. 

(Pleasant are one's own brands, i.e. is one's own fireside.) 

Scintillae propriae sunt mihi deliciae. — MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. 
O. 2. 45, fol. 365. 

Ane's ain hearth is gowd's worth \%vorth gold\ — Hislop. 

Home is home, though it be never so homely (Ray). Cf. 
D. >• 334, 335. 336- 

76 

Gredy is the godles. 

Hending, St. 15. 

{godles, i. e. good-less, the needy or poor man.) 

77 

When the coppe is follest, thenne ber hire feyrest. 

Hending, st. 16. 

(When the cup is fullest, then carry it most carefully.) 
Vas plenum recto qui tenet orbe ferat. 

Quoted by Kemble, Salomon and Saturn, p. 281. 
A fu' cup is ill to carry.— Hislop. 

78 

Monimon syngeth. When he horn bryngeth 

Is yonge wyf; 
Wyste [he] whet he broghte, Wepen he mohte. 

Hending, st. 18. 
{Monimon, many a man ; Is, his ; Wyste he, if he knew.) 



32 THE PROVERBS OF HENDING 

Monymon singeth That wif horn bryngeth, 
Wiste he hwat he brouhte Wepen he myhte. 

Proverbs of Alfred, A 264. 

Mennich man lude synghet, 
Wen men em de brut bringet : 
Weste he, wat men em brochte, 
Dat he wol wenen mochte. 
The above lines, dated 1575, appear over a fireplace in 
a room belonging to the Rathskeller at Liibeck. (J. Zupitza, in 
Anglia, iii. 370 (1880).) 
I translate them thus : — 

Many a man full loudly sings 
When his bride he homeward brings ; 
Wist he, what he home had led, 
He well might weep and wail instead. 
It would appear that the German lines were adapted from 
Middle English. D. i. 338. 

79 

Tonge breketh bon, and nath hire-selue non. 

Hending, st. 19. 

(boti, bone ; nath, hath not ; hire-selue, herself.) 
For ofte tunge breketh bon, Theyh heo seolf nabbe non. 

Proverbs of Alfred, A 425. 

Ossa terat lingua, careat licet ossibus ilia. 
La langue n'a grain ny d'os Et roinpt Vechine et le dos.— Le 
Roux de Lincy, Prov. ii. 325. 
The tongue is not steel, yet it cuts (Hazlitt). 

Osse caret lingua, secat os tamen ipsa maligna. 

(See my note to Prov. of Alfred, p. 72.) 
All from Prov. xxv. 15 ; Ecclus. xxviii. 17. D. ii. 744. 



THE PROVERBS OF HENDING 33 

80 

That me lutel yeueth, he my lyf ys on. 

Hending, st. 20. 
(He who gives me little, he is on (in favour of) my life.) 
Me uult uitalem qui dat mihi rem modicalem. 

MS. Harl. 3362, fol. 39. 
Qi pou me doune, vivre vie voet. — Le Roux de Lincy, Prov. 
ii. 481. 

(Who gives me little, wishes me to live.) 

81 

The bet the be, the bet the by-se. — Hending, st. 21. 
(The better it is for thee, the better look about thee.) 

Evereuch man, the bet him beo, 

Eaver the bet he hine beseo. 

Owl and Nightingale, 1 269. 
{beo, be ; he hine beseo, let him look about him.) 

82 

Under boske shal men weder abide. 

Hending, st. 22. 
(Under a bush one must abide the storm.) 

Under the greenwood tree . . . 

Here shall he see 

No enemy 

But winter and rough weather. 

As You Like It, ii. 5. 
A wee bush is better than nae bield \no shelter]. — Hislop. 
These evil showers make the low bush better than no bield. — 
Scott, The Monastery, ch. 3. 

SKBAT E. E.P. £) 



34 THE PROVERBS OF RENDING 

83 

When the bale is hest, thenne is the bote nest. 

Hending, st. 23. 
(When the evil is highest, then is the remedy nighest.) 
Wone the bale is alre-hecst, 
Thonne is the bote alre-necst. 

Owl and Nightingale, 687-8. 

{alre-hecst, highest of all ; alre-necst, nighest of all.) 
Trench, in his book on Proverbs, quotes a Jewish saying :— 
When the tale of bricks is doubled, Moses comes. Cf. also The 
Proverbs of Alfred, A 140-4. 

After bale cometh boote, thurgh grace of God almight. 

Tale of Gamely n, 63 1 
Aftir bale comyth bote, who-so byde conne. 

Tale of Beryn, 3956. 

Lo, an olde proverbe . . . Whan bale is greetest, than is bote 
a nye-bore \neighboiir\—\5%V, Test, of Love, ii. 9. 143. Cf. 
D. ii. 197. 

84 

Selde cometh lone lahynde hom.— Hending, st. 25. 

(Seldom comes a loan laughing home ; i. e. it is seldom joyfully 
repaid.) 

A borrowed len \loa7i'\ should gae laughing hame.— Hislop, 
Prov. of Scotland. Cf. D. ii. 27. 

85 
Owen ys owen, and other mennes edueth. 

Rending, st. 26. 

(One's own is one's own. The sense of edjieth (or edneth) is 
unknown. I propose to read edgeth, i. e. goes back, returns ; 
from AS. ed-, back, and gxih, ME. geth, goes. See later 
forms of the Proverb below.) 



THE PROVERBS OF HENDING 35 

Borowed thinge wole home. — How the Goode Wif taught, 
165 ; in Hazlitt, Early E. Poetry, i. 191. 

Borowed ware wyll home agayne. — Parlametit o/Byrdes, 224 ; 
in the same, iii. 179. 

Cf. Owne is owne at reckonings end. — Heywood, Woorkes, 
1562, pt. ii. c. 4 (Hazlitt). 

86 

Of un-boht hude men kerueth brod thong. 

Hending, st. 28. 

(From a hide unbought people cut a broad thong.) 

De cute non propria maxima corrigia.— MS. Trin. Coll. 
O. 2. 45, fol. 365. 

Eaire d'autruy cuir large courroye, To spend freely on 
another man's purse ; to cut a large thong out of another man's 
leather. — Cotgrave, s. v. Ctnr. 

Ye cut lang whangs [slices] afif ither folk's leather.— Hislop. 
Cf. D. i. 92. 

87 

He is fre of hors that ner nade none. 

Hending, st. 29. 

(He is ready to lend a horse, who never had one.) 
He's free of fruit that wants [lacks] an orchard.— Hislop, 
Scot. Prot'erbs. 

88 

Lyht chep, luthere yeldes. 

Hending, st. 30. 
(That which is cheaply bought brings a poor return.) 
Men say :— Lyght chepe letherly ior-Yoidys.— To'wneley Mys- 
teries, xiii. 171. 

Light cheap, lither yield (Ray). 
D 2 



36 THE PROVERBS OF RENDING 

89 
Dere is boht the hony that is licked of the thorne. 

Hending, st. 31. 

Nis nan blisse sothes inan thing thet is utevvith, thet ne beo 
to bitter aboht ; thet et huni ther-in, beoth licked of thornes. 

(There is no true bliss in anything external that is not too 
dearly bought ; he that eats honey therein, it is licked off 
thorns.) — Old English Homilies, ed. Morris, i. 185. 

Trop achepte le viiel qui sur espines le leche, He buyes hony 
too deare that licks it off thorns.— Cotgrave. 

It's dear coft {dearly bought] honey that's licked aff a thorn. — 
Hislop. D. i. 747. 

90 

Of alle mester men, mest me hongeth theues. 

Hending, st. 34. 
(Of the men of all trades, they especially hang thieves.) 

91 

Euer out cometh euel sponne web. 

Hending, st. 35. 
(An ill-spun web always comes out.) 
An ill spun weft 

Will out either now or eft. (Hazlitt.) 
This is a Yorkshire proverb. — Ray. It occurs, accordingly, 
in the Toivneley Mysteries, xiii. 587. 

92 

Monimon, for londe, Wyueth to shonde. 

Hending, st. 36. 

(Many a man, for the sake of the land, takes a wife to his 
shame.) 



THE PROVERBS OF RENDING 37 

Ne schal-tu neuere thi wif By hire wlyte cheose, 
For neuere none thinge That heo to the bryngeth . . . 
For mony mon, for ayhte, Vuele i-auhteth ; &c. 
(Thou shalt never choose thy wife by her look, for the sake 
of anything that she brings thee ; for many a man, for the sake 
of wealth, calculates badly.) — Proverbs of Alfred, A 248-55. 
A dower, my lords ! disgrace not so your king, 
That he should be so abject, base, and poor. 
To choose for wealth and not for perfect love. 

I Hen. VI, V. 5. 48. 
Mony ane for land takes a fool by the hand. — Hislop. 

93 

Frendles ys the dede. 

Heading, st. 37. 

(Friendless is the dead man.) 

For the dede hath fewe freyndys. 

Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 6300. 
Home mort jiad poynt de amy. — Le Roux de Lincy, Prov. ii. 
476. And see Cotgrave, s. v. Ami. 

94 

Drynk eft lasse, and go by lyhte horn. 

Hending, st. 38. 

(Drink afterwards less, and go home by daylight.) Cf. 
Proverbs of Alfred, B. § 15. 

95 

Hope of long lyf Gyleth mony god wyfe. 

Hending, st. 39. 
{Gyleth, beguiles ; god, good.) 



38 THE PROVERBS OF RENDING 

Monymon weneth That he wene ne tharf, 
Longes lyues ; Ac him lyeth that wrench. 

Proverbs of Alfred^ A i6o, 

(Many a man expects, what he ought not to expect, a long 
life ; but that false notion deceives him.) 

Mon may longe lyues wene, 
Ac ofte him lyeth the wrench. 

Old English Miscellany, ed. Morris, p. 157. 

So also in the same, p. 36 ; and in the Ayetibite of Inwyt, ed. 
Morris, p. 129. 



ROBERT MANNYNG, OF BRUNNE 

Robert Mannyng, of Brunne (Bourne) in Lincolnshire, trans- 
lated William of Wadington's Manuel des Pechiez, in 1303, 
with the title oi Handlyng Synne. It was edited by Dr. Furnivall 
for the Roxburghe Club in 1862, and again for the E. E. T. S. in 
1901. Six proverbs have been quoted from this poem above; 
see nos. 3, 25, 26, 31, 42, 93 ; and six are quoted in illustration 
of Chaucer, nos. 159, 176, 262, 292, 294, 295. 

96 

Trouthe ys more than alle the worlde. 

Handlyng Synne, 2764. 
Magna est ueritas, et praeualet. 

3 Esdras, iv. 41. 
For, aftir comyn seying — evir atte ende 
The trowith woll be previd, how-so men evir trend. 

Tale of Beryn, 2037. 

97 

Hys lyppes, he [Solomon] seyth, he shal make swete. 

Wyth feyre wurdys he shal the grete ; 

But yn hys herte he shal thynke 

For to do the a wykked blynke. 

Handlyng Synne, 4179. 
From Ecclus. xii. 16. 

98 

Yyue thy chylde when he wyl kraue, 

And thy whelpe whyl hyt wyl haue, 

Than mayst thou make, yn a stounde, 

A foule chylde and a feyre hounde. 

Handling Synne^ 7240. 

( Vytce, give ; kraue, ask ; stounde, hour, short time.) 



40 ROBERT MANNYNG, OF BRUNNE 

Love thou thy chyldyr out of wytte, 
Trust to hem— and helples sytte. 

Handling Synncy 1227. 
Give a child his fill, 
And a whelp his will, 
And neither will thrive. 

(Hazlitt.) 
Gie a bairn his will, and a whelp its fill, 
And nane o' them will e'er do weel. 

Hislop, Scot. Prov. 

99 

(Yn a proverbe of olde Englys) — 

That yougthe wones, Yn age mones ; 

That thou dedyst ones, Thou dedyst eftsones. 

Handling Synne^ 7674. 

(That which youth is used to, in age (one) remembers ; that 
which thou didst once, thou didst again.) See no. 69. 

100 

The nere the cherche, the fyrther fro Code. 

Handling Synne^ 9^43- 

To kerke the narre, from God more farre, 
Has bene an old-sayd sawe. 

Spenser, Shep. Kal.,July, 98. 

The near [i, e. nearer] to the church, the further from God. — 
Heywood ; pt. i. c. 9. 
Pres de VEglise est souvent loing de Dieu. — Cotgrave. 
Near the kirk, but far frae grace. 

Hislop. 



ROBERT MANNYNG, OF BRUNNE 41 

lOI 

For thys men se and say alday, 
The threde eyre selleth alle away. 

Handlyng Synne^ 9478. 

(The third heir sells away everything.) 
Ill gotten goods thrive not to the third heir (Hazlitt). 
De male quaesitis vix gaudet tertius haeres.— Quoted by 
Walsingham, Hist, p. 260 (King, Classical Quotations). 

The grandsire buys, the faither bigs \builds\ 
The son sells and the grandson thigs \begs\ 

Hislop. 
Unrecht Gut kommt selten auf den dritten Erben.— D. i. 648. 

102 

Kowardyse hyt ys, and foule maystry 
To throwe a faucoun at euery flye. 

Handlyng Synne^ 10915- 

{maystry, feat, in an ironical sense ; throwe, let fly.) 
We may compare the following : — 

In faith, my lord, you might go pistol flies, 

The sport would be more noble. 

Webster, The White Devil, ed. Dyce, p. 22. 



PIERS THE PLOWMAN 

The poem entitled Piers the Plowman^ presumably by William 
Langland, appears in three distinct recensions, which have 
been called the A-text, the B-text, and the C-text respectively ; 
the probable dates of these texts being about 1362, 1377, and 
some time later than 1390. It has been several times printed. 
I refer here to my edition of the three texts as printed at Oxford 
in 1886 (in two volumes). The Proverbs cited in it are rather 
numerous. 

I also include here the poem to which I have given the name 
of Richard the Redeless. 

103 

Selden moseth the marbelston • that men ofte treden. 

P. PL A. X. loi. 

(The marble-stone on which men often tread seldom gathers 
moss.) 

Syldon mossyth the stone that oftyn ys tornnyd and wende. 
Quee7i EHzabetKs Academy, ed. Furnivall, p. 39. 
The Proverb says, and who'd a Proverb cross, 
That Stones, when rolling, gather little moss. 

Vade Mecwnfor Maltwc^-ms, 1720, Part 2, p. 6. 
Saxum uolutum non obducitur musco. — Ray. 

Then seek not mosse upon a rowling stone. 

Grttxit, Jatnes IV, ii. 2 ; 1. 951. 
Pierre qui se remue n'acaieille point de mousse, the rolling 
stone gathers no mosse. — Cotgrave, s. v. Mousse. 

And on the stone that styll doth turne about There groweth no 
mosse. — Sir T. Wiat, '^rd Satire, 3. Cf. D. ii. 390. 



PIERS THE PLOWMAN 43 

104 

Ye ne haue na more meryte • in masse ne in houres 
Than Malkyn of hire maydenhode • that no man 
desireth. 

P. PL B. i. 1 81-2. 
{haures, services of the church.) 
Cf. Chaucer, C Z!, B 30, 
Cf. There are more maids than Malkin. — Heywood. 

105 

Ded as a dore-nayle (dead as a door-nail). 

P,PL C. ii. 184. 
As ded as a dore-tre (door-post). — P. PL B. i. 185. 

Ded as dore-nail. 

WilL of Palerne, 628. 

As ded as dornayl. 

Id. 3396. 
Fahtaff. What, is the old king dead ? 

Pistol. As nail in door. 

2 He7i. IV, V. 3. 125. 

A door-nail was a large-headed nail with which doors were 
formerly studded, for strength or ornamentation. There is 
nothing to show that (as Todd conjectured) the reference is to 
a nail on which the knocker struck. 

106 

Chastite without charite • worth cheyned in helle ; 
It is as lewed as a laumpe • that no Hght is inne. 

P. PL B. i. 186-7. 

{worth, shall be ; lewed, valueless ; laumpe, lamp in which is 
no light.) 



44 PIERS THE PLOWMAN 

Maydenhod wythoute the loue of God is ase the lompi 
wythoute oyle. — Ayenbite of Iniuyt, ed. Morris, p. 233. 
Adapted from Matt. xxv. 3. 

107 

Drynke but myd the doke. 

P. PL B. V. 75 

(Drink only With the duck ; i. e. drink only water.) 

108 

I have as moche pite of pore men • as pedlare hatt 

of cattes, 
That wolde kille hem, yf he cacche hem myghte 

for couetise of here skynnes. 

P. PL B. V. 258 

(I have as much pity on poor men as a pedlar has on cats 
Who would kill them, if he could catch them, for desire 
their skins.) 

log 

I am holden, quod he, as hende • as hounde is ir 
kychyne. — P. PL B. v. 261. 

(I am considered, quoth he, (to be) as courteous as a dog ir 
a kitchen.) 

Mauvais chien ne veut ianiais compagnon en cuisine, a churU 
cannot endure a companion in his gainful imployments.— 
Cotgrave, s. v. Cuisine. 

Wil the hund gnajh bon 
I -fere neld he non. 

(While the dog gnaws a bone, he would have no companion.] 

Dum canis os rodit, sociari pluribus odit. (These two quota- 
tions are from T. Wright's Essays, i. 149.) 



PIERS THE PLOWMAN 45 

no 

He buffeted the Britoner • about the chekes, 
That he loked like a lanterne • al his lyf after. 

P. Pl.B.Yi. 178. 

{Britoner, Briton, Welshman ; loked like a lanterne, looked 
like a lantern, that could be seen through.) 

Cf. ' a pair o' cheeks like lantern-leeghts,' i. e. thin even to 
transparency. — E. D. D. 

Lene as lanterne. 

MS. Laud 656, fol. i6b. 

Ill 

I rede eche a blynde bosarde • do bote to hym-selue. 

P. PL B. X. 266. 

(I advise every blind buzzard to amend himself.) 

But of other, thou blundyrst as a blynde buserde. 

Wright, Polit. Poems, ii. 98. 
Cf. no. 61. 

112 

For qant OPORTET vyent en place ' il ny ad 
que PA TI. P. PL B. x. 439. 

(For when ' must ' comes forward, there is nothing for it but to 
suffer.) 

And when oportet cums in plas, 
Thou knawys, miserere has no gras. 

Reliquiae Antiquae, ii. 14. 
{miserere, i. e. pity, has no grace, or favour.) 

What cannot be eschewed must be embraced. 

Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5. 251. 
What cannot be cured, must be endured. — Walker (1672). 



46 PIERS THE PLOWMAN 

113 

Homo pi'oponit, quod a poete " and Plato he hyght, 
And Deiis disponit^ quod he • lat God done his 
wille. ; 

P. PL B. xi. 36, 37. ; 

{Hyght, was called.) The attribution of this saying to Plato ; 
'the poet' is erroneous. It occurs in Thomas a Kempis, De ' 
Imitatione Ch-isti, lib. i. c. 19; adapted from the Vulgate: — 
Cor hominis disponit uiam suam ; sed Domini est dirigere 
gressus eius (Prov. xvi. 9). 

Man proposes, God disposes. — Hislop. Cf. D. ii. 94. 

114 

For there are ful proude-herted men . . . 
. . to pore peple • han peper in the nose. 

P. PL B. XV. 197. 

(They have pepper in the nose ; i. e. are offended and cross, 
behave angrily ; see Pe-pper in Halliwell's Dictionary.) 

Prendre la chevre, to take in dudgeon, or snuffe ; to take the 
pet, or pepper in the nose. — Cotgrave, French Dictionary.) 
Took it in snuff. 

I Hen. IV, i. 3. 41. 

I would not that al women should take pepper in the nose. — 
Lyly, Euphiies, p. 118. Cf. p. 375. 

For drede of the red hat 
Take peper in the nose. 

Skelton, Why Come Ye Nat, 380, 
(The sense is — Lest the cardinal take offence.) 
Why, sir, because I entertained this gentleman for my 
ancient, ... he takes pepper i' th' nose and sneezes it out upon 
my ancient. — Chapman, May-day, Act. iii. {Quintiliano). 



PIERS THE PLOWMAN 47 

115 

As who so filled a tonne • of a fresshe ryuer, 
And went forth with that water • to woke with 
Themese. P. PL B. xv. 331-2. 

(As though one should fill a tun from a fresh river, and go 
forth with that water to moisten (or dilute) the Thames there- 
with.) 

Or in the se cast water, thynkynge it to augment. 

Barclay, Ship of Fools ^ ed. Jamieson, i. 166. 
To cast water into the Thames. Lumen soli mtittmri.—'RdLy's 
Proverbs (Proverbial Phrases, s. v. water). Cf. D. ii. 471. 

116 

And bothe naked as a nedle. 

P. PL B. xii. 162. 
And as naked as a nedle. 

P. PL B. xvii. 56. 

It occurs also in MS. Laud 656, fol. 6b, 1. 2. 
She was naked as a nedel.— Sir T. Malory, Mofie Darthur, 
bk. xi. ch. I. 

117 

Venym for-doth venym • and that I proue by resoun. 
For of alle venyraes • foulest is the scorpioun, 
May no medcyne helpe • the place there he styng- 

eth 
Til he be ded, and do ther-to ; • the yuel he destroy- 

eth. P. PL B. xviii. 152-5. 

(for-doth, destroys ; there, where ; do ther-to, applied to the 
place ; yuel, evil, harm.) 



48 PIERS THE PLOWMAN 

To a man smitten of the scorpion, ashes of scorpions burnt 
dronke in wine, is remedy. — Batman, ir. of Bartholomceus, Hb. 
1 8, c. 98. 

The scorpion's sting, which being full of poyson, is a remedy 
for poyson. — Lyly, Et(phues, ed. Arber, p. 411. 

We kill the viper and make a treacle ^remedy'X of him. — 
Jeremy Taylor, Works, vi. 254. 

From Pliny's Natural History, bk. xi. c. 25. Holland's trans- 
lation has : — If a man be stung with a Scorpion, and drinke the 
powder of them in wine, it is thought to be present remedie. 

And see Lezard Chalcidique, in Cotgrave. 

118 
For shal neuere brere bere • beries as a v>me, 
Ne on croked kene thorne * kynde fygys wexe. 

P. PL C. iii. 28-9. 
{brere, briar ; kynde, natural ; wexe, grow.) 

. . . shal neuere good appel 
Thorw no sotil science • on sour stock growe. 

P. PI. C. xi. 206-7. 
Adapted from Matt. vii. 16. 
Ye canna gather berries afif a whinbush. — Hislop. 

119 

That that rathest rypeth • roteth most saunest. 

P. PL C. xiii. 223. 

{rathest, most quickly ; saunest, soonest.) 
Soon ripe, soon rotten (Heywood ; Ray). 

For timely ripe is rotten too-too soone. 

Greene, Friar Bacott, ii. 3 ; 1. 701. 
Cf. D.i. 521. 

120 

On fat lande and ful of donge • foulest wedes grow- 
eth. P. PL C. xiii. 224. 



PIERS THE PLOWMAN 49 

Most subject is the fattest soil to weeds. — Shakespeare, 
2 Hen. IV, iv. 4. 54. 

Doth not common experience make this common unto us, 
that the fattest ground bringeth foorth nothing but weedes if it 
be not well tilled ?— Lyly, Euphues^ p. ill. 

121 

As wroth as the wynd • wex Mede therafter. 

P. PL C. Iv. 486. 

(As angry as the wind became the Lady Meed thereafter.) 
Thei woU be wroth as the wynde. — Richard the Redeles, 

iii. 153- 

Thanne the kyng wax wrothe as 'wynde..— Athelston ; in Reliq. 
Antiguae, ii. 95. 

122 

When he streyneth hym to strecche • the straw is 
hus whitel. P. PL C. xvii. 76. 

(When (the poor man in bed) strains to stretch himself out, 
the straw is his blanket.) 

Whoso streket his fot forthere than the whitel will reche 
[reach}, he schal streken in the straw.— Quoted by Mr. Riley 
[Memorials of London, p. 8) from a Book of Husbandry attri- 
buted to Grosteste, Bishop of Lincoln. Cf. D. ii. 402. 

123 

The biternesse that thow hast browe • now brouk 

hit thyself; 

That art doctour of deth • drynk that thow madest. 

P. PL C. xxi. 404, 405. 

{browe, brewed ; brouk, enjoy ; That, thou that ; that, that 
which.) 

SKEAT. E. E. P, £ 



50 PIERS THE PLOWMAN 

Let him habbe, ase he b;e\v, bale to dryng [drmk]. — Ballad 

against the King of Abnaigne, pr. in Political Songs, ed. Wright, 

p. 69. 

And who so wicked ale breweth, 

Ful ofte he mot \imist'\ the werse drinke. 

Gower, Confessio Amantis, bk. iii. 1626. 

Swilk als thai brued, nov/ ha thai dronken. — Ctirsor Mtmdi, 
2848. 

{Swilk als, such as ; ha, have.) 

* It is even said that when Courcelles, the French minister at 
the Scotch Court, endeavoured to rouse James [the First] to 
some rigorous measures for his mother's safety, he replied with 
a coarseness and calmness equally characteristic, that "as she 
brewed, she must drink " '.—Note to Mrs. Jameson's Female 
Sovereigns, i. 268. 

Let him drink as he has brewen. — Hislop. D. i. 438. 

124 

Men myghtten as well have huntyd • an hare with 
a tabre. Richard the Redeles, i. 58. 

In Hazhtt's Proverbs, we find : (i) Drumming is not the way 
to catch a hare ; (2) It is a mad hare that will be caught with 
a tabor ; (3) Men catch not a hare with the sound of the drum ; 
(4) You may catch a hare with a tabor as soon. ' No one would 
readily believe that a hare could have been sufficiently embold- 
ened to face a large concourse of spectators without expressing 
its alarm, and beat upon a tambourine in their presence ; yet 
such a performance was put in practice not many years back, 
and exhibited at Sadler's Wells ; and, if I mistake not, in several 
other places in and about the metropolis.' — Strutt, Sports and 
Pastivies, bk. iii. c. 6. D. i. 688. 

You shal assoone catch a hare with a taber. — Lyly, Enphues, 

p. 44- 

It is a mad hare that wil be caught with a taber. — Id. p. 327. 



PIERS THE PLOWMAN 51 

125 

For as it is said • by elderne dawis, 

'Ther gromes and the goodmen • beth al cliche 

grette, 
Well wo beth the wones • and all that woneth 

therin.' Richard the Redeles^ i. 65-7. 

(For, as was said in olden days, Where grooms and house- 
holders are all alike great, very disastrous will it be for the 
houses and all that dwell in them.) 

Hwan thu sixst on leode . . . Thral vnbuhsum, 
Athelyng brytheling, Lond withuten lawe, 
Also seyde Bede, Wo there theode. 

Old English Miscellany, ed. Morris, p. 185. 
(When thou seest, among the people, a disobedient thrall . . . 
a nobleman (that is) a miserable creature, (and) the land without 
law — as Beda said— wo to the nation !) 

Miles sine probitate . . . Populus sine lege . . . 
Seruus sine tiniore. 

Chaucerian Pieces, p. 408 ; and see pp. Ixxi, Ixxii. 

126 

As siphre ... in awgrym. 

Richard the Redeles, iv. 53. 

(Like a cipher in arithmetic.) 
And at the last thou shalt be founde 

To occupye a place only, 
As do in Agime \read Augrime] ziphres rounde ; &c. 

R. Crowley, Select Works, ed. J. M. Cowper, p. 73. 
A poor cipher in agrum. — Peele, Edw. I, i. i (in Peele's 
Works, ed. Dyce, p. 379). Cf. T. Usk, Test, of Love, ii. 7. 82, 
and note, p. 470. And see Locrine, iv. i. 163. 

E 2 



THE BRUCE: BY JOHN BARBOUR 

The date is about 1375. Ed. Skeat (E.E. T.S.), 1870; 

(S.T.S.), 1893-4. 

Besides the three Proverbs quoted below, cf. Hending's 
Proverbs, st. 2, and Chaucer ; see nos. t^, 148, and 176. And 
see no. 62. 

127 

That soucht nan othir salss thartill 
Bot appetyt, that oft men takys. 

Barbour, Bruce^ ili. 540. 

(That sought for no other sauce thereto (i. e. for their meat) 
except appetite, such as often seizes men.) 

Hunger is the best sauce. Appetito non vuol salsa ; Ital. 
II n'y a saulce que d'appetit ; Gall. This proverb is reckoned 
among the aphorisms of Socrates. Optimum cibi condimentum 
fames, sitis potus. — Cicero, lib. 2 de Finibus. — Ray. Cf. Horace, 
Sat. ii. 2. 38. D. i. 775. 

128 

For men sais oft, that fire, na pryd, 
But discouering, may no man hyd. 

Barbour, Bruce .^ iv. 1 19. 

(For men often say, that no one can hide fire or pride without 
discovery.) 

A similar saying is— Love and a cough cannot be hid (Hazlitt). 
See no. 45. D. ii. 46. 



THE BRUCE 53 

129 

A Htell stane, as men sayis, 
May ger weltir ane mekill wane. 

Barbour, Bruce^ xi. 24. 

{stane, stone ; ger weltir, cause to be overturned ; tnekillivane, 
great waggon.) 

Cf. A little leak will sink a great ship (Hazlitt). 

Many little leaks may sink a ship. — T. Fuller, The Holy State, 
bk. i. c. 8. § 4. D. i. 918. 



CONFESSIO AMANTIS: BY JOHN 
GOWER 

This well-known poem, which may be dated about 1390, 
contains over a dozen Proverbs. My quotations are from the 
standard edition by G. C. Macaulay, Oxford, 1901. In addition 
to the five here quoted, see nos. 34, 56, 66, 123 above ; and nos. 
I55> 189, 197, 205, 209, 226, 227 below. 

130 

Lo, how thel feignen chalk for chese; 
For, though they speke and teche wel, 
Thei don hemself therof no del. 

Gower, Confessio Ama^ttis, prol. 416-8. 
(They perform no part (of their advice) themselves.) 
He reccheth noght, be so he winne, 
Of that another man schal lese, 
And thus ful ofte chalk for chese 
He changeth, with ful litel cost, 
Wherof another hath the lost 
And he the profit schal receive. — Id. ii. 2344-9. 
{reccheth, recks ; be so, if only ; lese, lose ; /os/, loss.) 
For thoughe I have no learning, yet I know chese from chalke. 
—John Bon and Mast. Person, 152 ; in Hazlitt, Eng. Popular 
Poetry, iv. 15. 

Making black of white, Chalke of Chese. — Gosson, School 
of Abuse, ed. Arber, p. 18. 

No more to be compared to him than chalk was to cheese. — 
Scott, Woodstock, ch. 24, § 12, 



CONFESSIO AMANTIS 55 

131 

For specheles may no man spede. 

Confessio A mantis^ i. 1293. 

(For no man can succeed by being speechless.) 
Cf. Owl and Nightingale, 1070; see no. 34. 
Spare to speak, and spare to speed (Heywood). 

132 

And so, withoute pourveance, 
Ful ofte he heweth up so hihe, 
That chippes fallen in his yhe. 

Gower, Confessio A mantis^ i. 1916-8. 

An olde proverbe ... He that heweth to hye, with chippes 
he may lese his sight.— T. Usk, Test, of Love, i. 9. 19. 

Yit wer me loth ovir myn hed to hewe. — Lygdate, Secrees of 
Philosophres, 459. 

He that hews abune his head may get a spail [chip'] in his ee. 
— Hislop, Scottish Proverbs. Cf. D. ii. 368. 

133 

For sparinge of a litel cost 
Ful ofte time a man hath lost 
The large cote for the hod \/iood\ 

Gower, Confessio Amantis, v. 4785. 

For want of a nail, the shoe is lost ; 
For want of a shoe, the horse is lost ; 
For want of a horse, the rider is lost.— Heywood. 
Spare well and spend well (Hazlitt). 



56 CONFESSIO AMANTIS 

134 

What he may get of his michinge, 
It is al bile under the winge. 

Gower, Confessio A mantis^ v. 6525-6. 

(What he can get by his thieving is all a bill under the wing ; 
i.e. carefully hidden, like a bird's bill under its wing.) 



GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

The Proverbs quoted by Chaucer outnumber all the preceding 
ones in the present collection, which gives all such as can readily 
be found in the works of his predecessors and contemporaries, 
excepting the few that occur in his works also, which have been 
omitted above in order to be introduced below by way of 
illustration. 

They are here given in the order in which they occur in my 
six-volume edition of Chaucer's Works and in The Student's 
Chaucer. 

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne. 

Parlement of FoiUes^ i. 

6 jSi'of ^paxvs, 17 §€ T€xvr) fiaKpr], — Hippocrates, Aphorism i. 

Ars longa, uita brevis. — D. i. 956. 

One may live and learn (Hazlitt). 

Art is long, and time is fleeting. — Longfellow, A Psalm of Life. 

136 

Th'eschewing is only the remedye. 

Parlement of Foules., 140, 

(The avoidance (of love) is the only remedy against it.) 
Sol fo'ir en est medicine. — Roman de la Rose, i68i8. 
(To flee (from love) is the only remedy for it.) 
Resistance vayleth none ; 
The first eschue is remedy alone. 

Sir T. Wiat, Song (From these hie hilles). 
{first eschue, avoidance from the very first.) 
Cf. Wei fight that wel ^\gh.t.— Owl and Nightingale, 176. 
(He fights well who flies well) ; see no. 72. 



58 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

137 

The jalous swan, ayens his deth that singeth. 

Pavlement of Foules^ 342. 
But as the swan, I have herd seyd ful yore, 
Ayeins his deth shal singe. A^ielida, 346. 

. . . the whyte swan 
Ayeins his deth beginneth for to singe. 

Legend of Good Women^ I355-6- 

Ad uada Maeandri concinit albus olor.— Ovid, Heroid. vii. 2. 

Chanter I'hymne du eigne, To sing his last. — Cotgrave, F. 
Dictionary . 

I will play the swan, And die in vsxw^xc— Othello, v. 2. 247. 

The swan sings when death comes (Hazlitt). 

Cf. Tennyson's poem : The Dying Swan. And Spenser, 
Ruines of Titne, 589-598. 

138 

For office uncommitted ofte anoyeth. 

Pavlement of Foules, 518, 
See no. 285, to the like effect. 

139 

But sooth is seyd, ' a fool can noght be stille.' 

Pavlement of Foules, 574. 

Sottes bolt is sone shote (a fool's bolt is soon shot). — 
Rending, st. 11. 

(A bolt was a missile shot from a crossbow.) 

Sottes bolt is sone i-schote. — Proverbs of Alfred, A 421. 

Fooles can not hold hir tunge. — Rotn. Rose, 5265. 

Ut dicunt multi, cito transit lancea stulti. — Proverb (Kemble). 

Orleans, You are the better at proverbs, by how much 
'a fool's bolt is soon shot'. — Henry V, iii, 7. 132. 



MINOR POEMS 59 

Touchstone. According to 'the foors bolt', sir, and such 
dulcet diseases. — As You like It, v. 4. 67. 

140 

There been mo sterres, God wot, than a paire. 

Parlement of Foules^ 595. 
(There are more stars than two.) 

There are more mares in the wood than Grisell (Hazlitt). 
There are more maids than Malkin (Heywood). D. ii. 85. 

141 

Qui bien aime, a tard oublie. 

ParleTuent of Foules^ 680. 

Qua leli luves forgettes lat. — Cursor Mundi, 4510. (He who 
loves loyally, forgets late.) 

Qui bien atjne tard oublie ; Prov. Sound love is not soon 
forgotten. — Cotgrave, F. Dictiotiary. 

(See my long note on the passage, in Chaucer, Works, i. 
525-6.) 

142 

But nothing thenketh the fals as doth the trewe. 

Anelida, 105. 
A trewe wight and a theef thenken nat oon. 

C. T., F 537. 
{thenken nat oon, do not think alike.) 

If you meet a thief, you may suspect him . . . to be no true 
man. — Much Ado, iii. 3. 53. See no. 281. 

— But as the swan, &c, Anelida, 346. 

See no. 137. 

143 
And eek be war to sporne ageyn an al. 

Truth, 1 1 . 
(To kick'against an awl.) 



6o GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Durum est tibi contra stimulum calcitrare. — Acts ix. 5 
(Vulgate). 

It is hard to thee, to kike ayens the pricke. — Wyclif's trans- 
lation. 

It is to hard to kyke ayen the spore. — Wyclif, Select Works, 
iii. 436, {spore, spur.) 

144 

If thou be siker, put thee nat in drede. 

BuktOHy 28. 

{stker, safe ; drede, dread, fear, uncertainty) ; i.e. let well alone. 
Let your trouble tarry till its own day comes (Hazlitt). 
Let well alone. — Proverb. 

In venturing ill we leave to be 
The things we are for that which we expect. — Lucrece, 148-9. 

145 

After greet heet cometh cold ; 
No man caste his pilche away. 

Proverbs.^ 3, 4. 
{pilche, a warm furred outer garment.) 
Take thine auld cloak about thee. — Othello, ii. 3 (song). 
He, that no sooner will provide a cloake 
Then when he sees it doth begin to raigne. 
May, peradventure, for his negligence. 
Be throughly washed when he suspects it not. 

King Edw. Ill, A. iii. sc. 2. 

146 

Who-so mochel wol embrace 

Litel therof he shal distreyne. 

Proverbs, 7, 8. 
{mochel, much ; distreyne, hold tight.) 



MINOR POEMS 6i 

For the proverbe seith, He that to muche embraceth, dis- 
treyneth litel. — Tale of Melibeus, B 2405. 

Qtii trop embrasse, nial itreint. — Motto to Balade by 
Deschamps, ed. Tarbe, i. 132, 

Trop ejnbrasser, et peu estraigner, to meddle with more 
business then he can wield ; to have too many irons in the fire ; 
to lose all by coveting all. — Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. D, ii. 552. 

But as a wedercok, that turn'th his face 
With every wind, ye fare ; and that is sene. 

Against Women Unconstant, 12. 

Hi byeth ase the wedercoc that is ope the steple, thet him 
went mid eche wynde. — Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 180. 

(They are like the weather-cock that is above the steeple, that 
turns itself with every wind.) 

Where had you this pretty weather-cock? — Merry Wives, 
iii. 2. 18. 

Cf. Chaunging as a vane. — C. T., E 996. 

148 

But alday fayleth thing that fooles wenden. 

Tr otitis^ i. 217. 

{alday, constantly ; wenden, imagined.) 

Thus alday fayleth thinges that fooles wende. — T. Usk, 
Testament of Love, ii. 8. 1 22. 
Hope maketh fol men ofte blenkes. — Havelok, 307. 
(Hope often shows delusions to a foolish man.) 
Oft failyeis the fulis thocht. — Barbour, Bruce, i. 582. 
(The fool's intention often fails.) 
Oft expectation fails.— ^//'i' Well, ii. I. 145. 
A' fails that fools think. — Hislop. See no. 48. 



62 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

149 

The yerde is bet that bowen vvole and winde 
Than that that brest. Troihis^ i. 257-8. 

[yerde, twig, branch ; bet, better ; brest, breaks.) 

And reed, that boweth doun for every blast 
Ful lightly, cesse wind, it vvol aryse ; 
But so nil not an 00k whan it is cast. 

Id. ii. 1387-9. 

(cesse wind, if the wind ceases.) 

It is the Fable of the Oak and the Reed. Mieux vaut plier 
que romprc, Prov. Better bow then breake. — Cotgrave, F. 
Dictionary. 

To thee the reed is as the oak. — Cynibeline, iv. 2. 267. 

Flecti non frangi (to be bent, not broken). 

Better bend than break. — Hislop. Cf. D. i. 44. 

150 

A fool may eek a wys man ofte gyde. 

Troilus, i. 630. 

Vn fol advise bie?i vn sage ; Prov. A foole may sometimes 
give a wise man counseU. — Cotgrave, F, Dictionary. 

If you will take a homely man's advice. — Macbeth, iv. 2. 68, 
' Fair and softly gangs far ', said Meiklehose ; * and if a fule 
may gie a wise man a counsel,' &c. — Scott, Hea7-t of Midlothian, 
ch. 45. 

The wyse seyth, wo him that is allone, 
For, and he falle, he hath noon help to ryse. 

Troilus, i. 694-5. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 63 

Vae soli ! quia cum ceciderit, non habet subleuantem se. — 
Eccles. iv. 10 (Vulgate). Quoted also in Ancren Riwle, p. 252, 
and in P. Plowtnan, C. xxi. 318. 

Homo solus aut deus aut demon. — Burton, Anatomy of 
Melancholy, pt. i, sec. 2, mem. 2, subsec. 6. 

Wo is him thet is euer one, uor hwon he ualleth he naueth 
hwo him areare. — Ancren Riwle, p. 252. 

(Wo to him that is always alone, for when he falls he has 
none to lift him up.) 

152 

Men seyn, to wrecche is consolacioun 
To have another felawe in his peyne. 

Troilus, i. 708-9. 
For unto shrewes joye it is and ese 
To have hir felawes in peyne and disese. 

C r., G 746-7. 

Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris. — Marlowe, Fausius, 
ii. I. 42. 

Company in misery makes it light. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

It's good to have company in trouble. — Id. 

In misery, it is great comfort to haue a companion. — Lyly, 
Eicphues, p. 96. 

Cf. Milton, P. R. i. 397-8. 

153 

For it is seyd — man maketh ofte a yerde 
With which the maker is himself y-beten. 

Troibts, i. 740-1. 
I was nevir chastisid ; but nowe myne owne yerd 
Betith me to sore ; the strokis been to hard. 

Tale of Beryn, 2324. 



64 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

He makes a rod for his own breech. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 
Tel porte le baston dont a son r-egret le hat on ; Many a one 
provides a rod for his own tail,— Cotgrave, F. Dictionary, 

And next the derke night the glade morwe ; 
And also joye is next the fyn of sorwe. 

Tr otitis, i. 951-2. 

Clarior est solito post maxima nubila Phebus, 

Post inimicitias clarior est et amor. 

After sharpe shoures most shene is the sonne. 

P. Plowman, B. xviii. 407-9. 
{shene, bright ; sonne, sun.) 

For aftir mysty cloudes there comyth a clere sonne ; 
So aftir bale comyth bote, whoso byde conne. 

Tale of Beryn, ed. Fumivall, 3955-6. 
After grete stormes the wether is often mery and smothe. — 
T. Usk, Testa^nent of Love, i. 5. 87. 

See also TroiL iii. 1060-4 (no, 182) and C. T, A 2841 (no. 225). 
And ioy awakith, whan wo is put to flight, — Lydgate, Temple 
of Glas, 397, 

As after stormes, when clouds begin to cleare, 
The sunne more bright and glorious doth appeare. 

Spenser, Hymn in Honour of Love, 277. 
Cf, D, i, 493- 

155 

He hasteth wel that wysly can abyde. 

Troiljts, i. 956. 
Be nought to hasty in this hote fare, 
For hasty man ne vvanteth never care. 

Troihis^ iv. 1567-8. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 65 

The proverbe seith : — He hasteth wel that wysely 
can abyde ; and in wikked haste is no profit. — 
C. r., B 2244. 

Oft rap reweth (Haste often rues). — Hending, st. ^i. 

Men sen alday that rape reweth. — Gower, C.A. iii. 1625. 

Affected Dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to 
business that can be. — Bacon, Essay xxv. 

Stop a little, to make an end the sooner (Hazlitt). 

The more haste, the worst speed [success]. — Locrine, A. i. sc, 2. 
He that can his tyme abyde, 
Al his wille him schal bytyde. 

King Alisaunder, 462, 429 1. 

Wel abit that wel may tholie. — Hending, st. 32. 

(He well abides who can well suffer.) 

Pacience in his soule overcometh, and is nat overcomen. — 
T. Usk, Testament oj Love, ii. 1 1. 58. 

For he, that holds my constancy, still conquers. — Beaumont 
and Fletcher, Island Princess, ii. I. 

II mondo e di chi ha pazienza. — Italian proverb. 

Cf. Vincit qui patitur. 

Bide weel, betide weel. — Hislop. D. i. 690. 

156 

. . . These wyse clerkes 
That erren aldermost ayein a lawe, 
And ben converted from hir wikked werkes 
Through grace of God, that list hem to Him drawe, 
Than arn they folk that han most God in awe, 
And strongest-feythed been, I understonde. 

Troilus^ i. 1002-7. 

{aldermost, most of all ; ayein, against ; list, &c., is pleased 
to draw them to Himself.) 

The greater the sinner, the greater the saint. 

SKEAT. E. E, P. F 



66 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

157 

A blind man can nat juggen vvel in hewis. 

Troilus, ii. 21. 
(A blind man is no good judge of hues or colours.) 
// en parle comme vn aveugle de couleiirs, He speakes of it 
like a blind man of colours, viz. ignorantly, at randome. — 
Cotgrave, F. Dictionary, s. v. Aveugle. 

Blinde men should judge no colours. — J. Heywood, Proverbs 
(ed. 1867), p. 60 {N. E. D.) ; pt. i. c. 5. 

158 

In sondry londes, sondry ben usages. 

Trotlus, ii. 28. 
Forthy men seyn — ech contree hath his lawes. 

TroiltiSy ii. 42. 
Ase fele thedes, ase fele thewes. — Hending, st. 4. 
(So many countries, so many customs ; i, e. each country has 
its own customs.) 

Eek this countr^ hath oon maner, and another countre hath 
another. — T. Usk, Testament 0/ Love, i. 5. 43. 

In some Anglo-Saxon Gnomic Verses (ed. Grein, 1. 17) we 
find : — efen-fela bega, )jeoda and ))eavva ; i. e. an equal number 
of both countries and customs. 

Tant de gens, tant de guises, As many different natures as 
nations. — Cotgrave. Cf. D. ii. 6. 

Avysement is good before the nede. 

Trot'his^ ii. 343. 

He wys is, that ware ys. — Robert of Brunne, Handlyng 
Synne, 8085. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA Sj 

Great acts require great counsels.— Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Island Princess, i. 3. 

Good take-heed 

Doth surely speed (Hazlitt). 

Think before you act. 

160 

Lat this proverbe a lore unto you be, 
'To late y-war,' quod Beautee, 'whan it paste.' 

Troilus^ ii. 397-8. 

(I am aware of it when too late, quoth Beauty, when it had 
passed away.) 

Too late to grieve, when the chance is past. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

He is wise that is ware in time (id.). 

He's wise that's timely wary.— Hislop, D. i. 580. 

161 

Of harmes two, the lesse is for to chese. 

Troilus^ ii. 470. 

{the lesse, Sec, the less is to be chosen.) 

Of two ills, choose the least (Heywood). 

Del mal el menos. — Spanish proverb (Ray). 

Ex duobus malis minimum est eligendum. — D. ii. 752. 
When heapes of harmes do hover over head, 
Tis time as then — some say — to looke about. 
And of ensuing harmes to choose the least. 

Miicedorus, A. i. sc. 4. 

Of euills, needs we must chuse the least.— Greene, James IV, 

V. 5 ; 1. 1759. 

How may ye haue loue vnto hym whiche is cause of two euillis ? 
The lasse euyll is to chese.— Caxton, Troy-book, leaf 59, back. 

Of twa ills, choose the least.— Hislop. 
F 2 



68 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

162 

And wel the hotter ben the gledes rede 
That men hem wryen with asshen pale and dede. 

Troilus^ ii. 538-9. 
[gledes^ glowing coals ; wryen, cover up.) 

Wry the gleed, and hotter is the fyr. 

Legend of Good Women^ 735. 

(Cover up the glowing coal, &c.) 

Quoque magis tegitur, tectus magis aestuat ignis.— Ovid, 
Metam, iv. 64, 

Le feu plus convert est le plus ardant ; The more that fire is 
kept down, the more it burns. — Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. 

Fire that's closest kept burns most of all. — Two G. of Verona, 
i. 2. 30. 

163 

For everything, a ginning hath it nede. 

Troihis^ ii. 671. 
{nede, necessarily.) 

All thyngs hath a begynyng.— R. Hilles, Commonplace Book 
(ab, 1530). See N. E.D., s.v. Beginning. 
Cosa fatta capo ha. — Italian proverb. 
(A thing accomplished has a beginning.) D. i, 102. 

164 

He which that nothing undertaketh 
Nothing n'acheveth. — Troilus, ii. 807-8. 
For he that nought n'assayeth, nought n'acheveth. 

Id. V. 784. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 69 

Nought venture, nought have. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

Who nothing undertaketh . . . nothing acheveth. — T, Usk, 
Testament of Love, i. 5. 86. 

Qui ne s'adventtire n'a cheval ny mule ; Prov. Nothing 
venture nothing have, say we. — Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. 

Things out of hope are compassed oft with venturing. — Venus 
and Adonis, 567. D. ii. 574. U*^ ^' -■ 

See also no. 189. 

165 

They speken — but they bente never his bowe. 

Trotlus^ ii. 861. 

Many talk of Robin Hood, that never shot in his bow. — 
Proverb (HazHtt). 

Many speke of Robin Hoode, that neuer shotte in his bowe. — 
The Wellspoken No Body (Ballad, c. 1600, quoted by Hazlitt). 

Mony ane speaks o' Robin Hood that ne'er shot wi' his bow. 
— Hislop. 

166 

. . . Forthy, who that hath an heed ot verre, 
Fro cast of stones war him in the werre. 

Trotlus^ ii. 867-8. 

{Forthy, therefore ; verre, glass ; war him, let him beware.) 
Fortune his howve entended bet to glase. — Troil. v. 469. 
(Fortune meant to glaze his hood better ; i. e. to delude him, 

leave him defenceless.) 
And Lyf fleigh for fere • to Fysyke after helpe. 
And besoughte him of socoure * and of his salve hadde, 
And gaf hym golde, good woon • that gladded his herte ; 
And thei gyven hym agayne • a glasen howve. 

Piers Plotvman, B. xx. 168-71. 
(And Life fled, for fear, to Physic, to get help, and besought 

him for aid, and had some of his salve, and gave him gold, 



70 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

in great quantity, that gladded his [Physic's] heart ; and they, 
i.e. the doctors, gave him in return a hood of glass— that was of 
no use at all !) 

Si teneis la cabeza de vidrio, no os tomeis a pedradas conmigo 
(if you have a head of glass, you must not throw stones at me). 
— Spanish proverb (Pineda). 

That thou lovedst me thou lete, 
And madest me an houve of glas. 

Debate of Body and Soul, 245. 

{thou lete, thou didst pretend; houve of glas, a glass hood, 
that was no defence at all.) Cf. D. i. 600. 



167 

For though the beste harpour upon lyve 
Wolde on the beste-souned joly harpe 
That ever was, with all his fingres fyve, 
Touch ay o streng, or ay o werbul harpe, 
Were his nayles pointed never so sharpe, 
It shulde maken every wight to duUe, 
To here his glee, and of his strokes fulle. 

TroihiS, ii. 1030-6. 

{upon lyve, alive ; ay o, always one and the same ; werbul, 
tune ; to dulle, to become dull, to be weary.) 

Citharoedus 
Ridetur chorda qui semper oberrat eadem. 

Horace, De Arte Poetica, 356. 

Harp not on that string, madam. 

Richard III, iv. 4. 364. 
He harps aye on ae string. — Hislop. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 71 

168 

Forwhy men seyth, ' impression [e]s lighte 
Ful lightly been ay redy to the flighte.' 

Troilus^ ii. 1238-9. 

(redy to the flighte, prompt to go away,) 

Soon learnt, soon forgotten (Hazlitt). 

Eith \easily\ learned, soon forgotten. — Hislop. 

169 

Pandare, which that stood hir faste by, 
Felte iren hoot, and he bigan to smyte. 

Troihis^ ii. 1275-6. 
Whyl that iren is hoot, men sholden smyte. 

C. T., B 2226. 
Nay, when ? strike now, or else the iron cools. — 3 Henry 
VI, V. I. 49. 
Strike whilst the iron is hot. — Webster, Westward Ho, ii. 2. 
Strike the iron while it's hot. — Hislop. D. i. 405. 

170 

Through more wode or col, the more fyr. 

Troilus^ ii. 1333. 

(wode or col, wood or coal.) 
To add fuel to fire (Hazlitt). 

That were to . . . add more coals to Cancer when he burns. — 
Shak. Troilus and Cressida, ii. 3. 206. Cf. no. 258. D. i. 463. 

171 

... As an 00k com'th of a litel spyr. — Troilus^ ii. 1335. 

(spyr, a thin blade, small shoot.) 

Out of this grounde must come the spire, that by processe of 



72 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

tyme shal in greetnes sprede, to have braunches and blosmes of 
waxing frute. — T. Usk, Testament of Love, iii. 5.1. 

Tandem fit surculus arbor (a twig in time becomes a tree). — 
Motto of the Marquess of Waterford. 

172 

. . . Whan that the sturdy 00k, 
On which men hakken ofte, for the nones, 
Receyved hath the happy falling strook, 
The grete sweigh doth it come al at ones, 
As doon these rokkes or these milne-stones. 
For swifter cours com'th thing that is of wighte, 
Whan it descendeth, than don thinges lighte. 

Troilus^ ii. 1380-6. 

{sweigh, sway ; doth, &c., makes it come all at once.) 

So ofte must men on the oke smyte, til the happy dent have 

entred, which with the okes own swaye maketh it to come al at 

ones. — T. Usk, Testament 0/ Love, iii. 7. 99. 
A great tree hath a great fall.— Proverb. 

— And reed, that boweth doun, &c. 

Troilus, ii. 1387. 
See no. 149. 

173 

And lat see which of yow shal bere the belle. 

Troihts, iii. 198. 

{lat s:e, let us see ; bere the belle, bear the bell, take the lead, 
like a bell-wether leading the flock.) 

Of alle the foles [fools] I can telle [count]. 

From heven unto helle, 

Ye tbre bere the bell. — Towneley Mysteries, xii. 184. 
To bear the bell (Hey wood). 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 73 

(For later uses of ' to bear the bell ', see Brand's Antiquities, 
Ellis, iii. 393 ; and N. E. D.) 

174 

The firste vertu is to kepen tonge. — Troilus^ iii. 294. 
{kepen tonge, to hold one's tongue.) 

The firste vertu, sone, if thou wolt lere, 
Is, to restreyne and kepe wel thy tonge. 

C. T., H 332. 

Virtutem primam esse puta compescere linguam. — Dionysius 
Cato, Distich, i. 3. 

Avauntour and a lyere, al is on. — Troilus., iii. 309. 

(Avmmtour, a boaster ; al is on, all 's one.) 

Thus hath Avaunter blowen every-where 

Al that he knowith, and more a thousand-fold ; 

His auncetrye of kin was to Liere. 

The Court of Love, 1 240-2. 

{auncetrye, ancestry, lineage.) 

A boaster and a liar are cousins-german. — Proverb. 

A vaunter and a liar are near akin. — Hislop. 

176 

For wyse ben by foles harm chastysed. 

Troihis, iii. 329. 
Moult a beneurde vie 
Cil qui par autrui se chastie. 

Le Roman de la Rose, 8041-2. 
Feliciter is sapit qui periculo alicno sapit. — Plautus, Mercator, 
iv. 7. 40. 

Felix quern faciunt aliena pericula cautum. 
Be warned in time by others' harm, and you shall do full well.— 
higoldsby Legends : ' Misadventures at Margate ' (Moral). 



74 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

And wysdom es, and feyre maystrye 
To chastyse us wyth outhres folye. 

Ro^. of Brunne, Handlyttg Synne, 8086. 
And wyss men sayis — he is happy 
That be [by] othir will him chasty. 

Barbour, Bruce, i. 121. 
Better learn frae your neebor's skaith than frae your ain.— 
Hislop. 

Wise men learn by other men's mistakes ; fools by their own 
(Hazlitt), See no. 263. 

177 

Or casten al the gruwel in the fyre. 

Troilus^ iii. 711. 
. . . that shente al the browet, 
And cast adoun the crokk • the colys amyd. 

Richard the Redeles, ii. 51-2. 
igrwwel, gruel ; shente, &c., spoilt all the broth ; croM, &c,, 
the pot amid the coals.) 

178 
It is nought good a sleping hound to wake. 

Troz'/us, iii. 764. 
It is evil waking of a sleeping hound (Heywood). 
Wake not a sleeping lion (Hazlitt). 
Wake not a sleeping wolf. — 2 Henry IV, i. 2. 174. 
It 's kittle {dangerous] to wauken sleeping dogs. — Hislop. 
Cf. D. ii. 599. 

179 
Thus wryten clerkes wyse, 
That peril is with drecching in y-drawe; 
Nay, swich abodes been nought worth an hawe. 

Troihis^ iii. 852-4. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 75 

{perils &c., danger is drawn nearer by delay ; nay, such 
tarryings are not worth a haw.) 

Dwelling hath ofte scathe wrouht. — Havelok, 1352. 

(Delay has often wrought harm.) 

Delay is dangerous, and procureth harm. — Greene, Alphonsus, 
iii. 2 ; 1. 975. 

Come, come, delayes are dangerous.— Otway, Friendship in 
Fashion, A. iv. sc. I. 

ToUe moras : semper nocuit ditiferre paratis.— Lucan, Phars. 
i. 281. 

Delayes breede daungers, nothing so perillous as procrastina- 
tion. — Lyly, Euphues, p. 65. 

180 

The harm is doon, and — farewel, feldefare ! 

Troilus^ iii. 861. 

Farewel, Phippe ! — Piers Plowman, B. xi. 41. 

(Good-bye, Philip ! a proverbial and derisive expression, 
meaning ' good-bye for ever ' ; or, it 's all over,) 

(The former is a similar exclamation, meaning--' and may we 
hear no more of it.' As fieldfares come here in the winter 
months, we are glad when they go away.) 

In the Roniaunt of the Rose (1. 5510), it is said of false friends, 
that in the hour of your poverty, they derisively ' synge, go 
farewel, feldefare I ' Cf no. 203. 

181 

At dulcarnon, right at my wittes ende. 

Troilus, iii. 931. 

{dulcarnon, an old name for the forty-seventh proposition of 
Euclid's first book ; hence, a hard problem ; see my note on 
the line.) 



76 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

At her [their] wittes ende. — Piers Plowman^ B. xv. 363. 

Such sourges and conflictes of water arose ageynst them that 
they were at theyr wyttes endes whither to turne them. — R. 
Eden, The first three English Boohs on A?nerica, ed. Arber, 
1885 ; p. 140. 

182 

For I have seyn, of a ful misty morwe, 
Folwen ful ofte a mery someres day ; 
And after winter folweth grene May. 
Men seen alday, and reden eek in stories, 
That after sharpe shoures been victories. 

Troilus^ iii. 1060-4. 

See also Troil. i. 951 (above); no. 154. 

After grete stormes, the weder is often mery and smothe. — 
T. Usk, Testament of Love, i. 5. 88. 

Like sunshine after rain. — Venus and Adonis, 799. 

When the rayne is fain, the cloudes wexen clear.— Spenser, 
Shep. KaL, Sept., 18. D. ii. 251. 

183 

O ! soth is seyd, that heled for to be 
As of a fevre or other greet syknesse, 
Men raoste drinke, as men may often see, 
Ful bittre drink ; and, for to han gladnesse, 
Men drinken often peyne and greet distresse. 

Troi'lus, iii. 13 12-6. 

Bitter pills may have sweet effects. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

When I was sick, you gave me bitter pills. — Two C. of 
Verona, ii. 4. 149. 

The medicine, the more bitter it is, the more better it is in 
working. — Lyly, Euphiies, p. 114. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 77 

184 

Here may men see that mercy passeth right. 

Troilus^ iii. 1382. 

{passeth, surpasses, i.e. prevails over justice.) 
Mercy bothe right and lawe passeth. — T. Usk, Testament of 
Love, iii. i. 137. 

And earthly power doth then show likest God's 
When mercy seasons justice. 

Merchant of Venice, iv. I. 1 96-7. 

185 

As grete a craft is kepe vvel, as winne. 

Troilus^ iii. 1634. 

Car la vertu n'est mie mendre 
De bien garder et de deffendre 
Les choses, quant el sunt aquises, 
Que del aquerre en quelques guises. 

Le Roman de la Rose, 8300-3. 

{n^est mie mendre, is not less ; aquises, acquired.) 
Nee minor est uirtus, quam quaerere, parta tueri. — Ovid, Ars 
Amatoria, ii. 13. 

186 

The newe love out chaceth ofte the olde. 

Troihis, iv, 415. 

Successore nouo uincitur omnis amor. — Ovid, Remedia 
A?noris, 462. Quoted by Chapman, Mons. UOlive, iii. I. 
So the remembrance of my former love 
Is by a newer object quite forgotten. 

Two G. of Verona, ii. 4. 194. 



78 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

187 

Netle in, dokke out ; now this, now that. 

Troilns^ iv 461, 

'Nettle in, dock out, Dock in, nettle out, 
Nettle in, dock out, Dock rub nettle out.' 
This charm was uttered to assist in curing nettle-stings by 
the application of a dock-leaf. See Notes and Queries, Ser. i, 
iii. 368. 

There is nothing with them but ' in docke, out nettle.' — Udall, 
Royster Doyster, ii. 3. 8. 

Off and on, fast or loose, in docke, out nettle, and in nettle, 
out docke. — Bp. Andrewes, Sermons, fol. p. 361 (Nares). 

188 

A wonder last but nyne night never in toune. 

Troilus, iv. 588. 

The greatest wonder lasteth but nine daies.— Lyly, Etiphues, 
ed. Arber, p. 205. 

Ros. I was seven of the nine days out of the wonder before 
you came. — As Yoti Like it, iii. 2. 184. 

Glou. That would be ten days wonder at the least. 
Clar. That 's a day longer than a wonder lasts. 

3 He7i. VI, iii. 2. 1 13-4. 

189 

Fortune, as wel thy-selven wost, 
Helpeth hardy man to his empryse, 
And weyveth wrecches for hir cowardyse. 

Troilus, iv. 600-2. 

[wost, knowest ; hardy, bold ; empryse, enterprise ; weyveth, 
casts aside ; wrecches, faint-hearted men.) 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 79 

Hap helpeth hardy man alday, quod he. 

Legend of Good Women^ i773- 

Unhardy is unsely, thus men seith. 

C. T., A 4310. 

(The coward is unlucky.) 

Audentes Fortuna iuuat. — Virgil, Aeneid x. 284. 
Fortes Fortuna adiuuat. — Terence, Phormio, i. 4. 26. 
Fortune favours the brave [^r, the bold]. — Proverb. 
Resolution is a sole helpe at need. — Locrine, A. iii. sc. 2. 
Fortune still dotes on those who cannot blush. — The Mal- 
content^ ii. I. 

Fortune unto the bolde 
Is favourable for to helpe. 

Gower, C.A. vii. 4902. 
For I have oft hard wise men say, 

And we may see our sellis \_seh'es\, 
That Fortune helps the hardie ay, 
And pultrones [poltroons] plaine repellis. 

A. Montgomerie, Cherry and Slae, 371. 



190 

But manly set the world on sixe and sevene. 

Ti^oilits^ iv. 622. 

{set^ stake ; sixe and sevene, casts of the dice. The refer- 
ence appears to be to the game of hazard, played with dice. Cf. 
Cant. Tales, C 653 : — Seven is my chaunce.) 

I shalle, and that in hy [haste], set alle on sex and seven. 
— Towneley Mysteries, xvi. 128. 

I have set my life upon a cast, 
And I will stand the hazard of the die. 

Richard III, v. 4. 9. 



8o GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

What blinder bargain e'er was driven, 
Or wager laid at six and seven ? 

Butler, Hudibras, pt. iii, c. I. 587. 

How sholde a fish with-oute water dure? 

TroihiS^ iv. 765. 

See below ; C. 7"., A 179 (no. 211). 

192 

For which ful oft a by-word here I seye, 
That, ' rotelees, mot grene sone deye,' 

Troihcs^ iv. 769-70. 

{a by-ivord, &c., I often hear (men) say a proverb — that, when 
rootless, green things must soon die.) 

Why grow the branches now the root is withered ? — Richard 
III, ii. 2. 41. 

193 

The ende of blisse, ay sorwe it occupyeth. 

Troilus^ iv. 836. 
O sodeyn wo ! that ever art sticcessour 
To worldly blisse, spreynd with bitternesse ; 
Th' ende of the joye of our worldly labour ; 
Wo occupyeth the fyn of our gladnesse. 

C. T., B 421-4. 

{spreynd, sprinkled, mixed ; fyn, end.) 
For ever the latter ende of joye is wo. — C. T., B 4395. 
Risus dolore miscebitur, et extrema gaudii luctus occupat. — 
Prov. xiv. 13 (Vulgate version). And see no 225. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 8i 

194 

Lo, Troilus, men seyn that hard it is 
The wolf ful, and the wether hool, to have ; 
This is to seyn, that men ful ofte, ywis, 
Mot spenden part, the remenaunt for to save. 

Troilus^ iv. 1373-6. 

{ivether, sheep ; hool, whole ; Mot, must ; remenaunt, rest.) 

You were better to give the wool than the sheep (Ray). 

Meglio e dar la lana che la pecora (id.). 

Lose a leg rather than life. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

Yet better leave of [off] with a little losse 

Then by much wrestling to leese [lose] the grosse. 

Spenser, Shep. Kal., Sept., 133. 
D. i. 200. 

Men may the wyse at-renne, and nat at-rede. 

Troilus^ iv. 1456. 
{at-renne, outrun ; at-rede, surpass in counsel.) 

Men may the olde at-renne, and noght at-rede. 

C. T., A 2449. 

The eldor mon me mai of-riden 
Betere thenne of-reden. 

Proverbs of Alfred, 641-2. 

(An older man one may more easily outride than surpass in 
counsel.) 

Ne mai no strengthe ayein re±— Owl and Nightingale, 762. 

(There can no strength avail against counsel.) 

Prudens consilio uetus est uir, tardus eundo (Kemble). D. i. 74. 

SKEAT K. E.P. Q 



82 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

196 

It is ful hard to halten unespyed 
Bifore a crepul, for he can the craft. 

Troilus^ iv. 1457. 

{halten, go lame ; crepul, cripple ; can, knows.) 

Clocher devant les boiteux, to show cunning in the presence 
of those that are as skilfull as himselfe ; to hault before a cripple. — 
Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. 

Thou must halt cunningly if thou beguile a cripple. — Lyly, 
Euphues, p. 318. 

It's ill limping before cripples. — Hislop. D. i. 736. 

— Beth nought to hasty, &c. — Troihis^ iv. 1567. 
See no. 155. 

197 

Men seyn, ' the suffraunt overcometh,' pardee, 

Troilus, iv. 1584. 

Patience is an heigh vertu^ certeyn, 

For it venquissheth, as thise clerkes seyn, 

Thinges that rigour sholde never atteyne. 

C. T., F 773-5. 

Pacientes vincunt. — P. Plowman, C. xvi. 138. 

Ys no vertue so feyr • of value ne of profit, 

As ys sufifrance souereynliche ' so hit be for Codes loue. 

And so witnesseth the wyse • and wysseth the Frenshe, 

Bele uertue est suffraunce ' mal dire est petite ueniaunce ; 

Bien dire e bien suffrir • fait ly suffrable a bien venir. 

P. Plowman, C. xiv. 202-6. 
{suffrance, patience ; so hit be, if it be ; wysseth, instructeth 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 83 

us. Bele, &c., A fair virtue is Patience; evil speaking is 
a petty vengeance ; to speak well of others and to endure well 
make the patient man come to a good end.) 

Suffrance hath ever be the beste 
To wissen him that secheth reste. 

Gower, C.A, iii. 1639. 
Sufiferance breeds ease. — Marlowe, /^w 0/ Malta, A. i. so. 2. 
Ferdinand. I am studying the art of patience. 
Pescara, 'Tis a noble virtue. 

Webster, Duchess of Malfi, v. 2. 
Nay, soft ! Of sufiferance cometh ease. 
Sir Clyomon ; in Peele's Works, ed. Dyce, p. 524. 
Quem superare nequis, pacienter vince ferendo. — Quoted from 
' the wise man' ; Old Eng. Homilies, Ser. 2, p. 81 ; which is 
somewhat altered from Dionysius Cato, Distich, i. 38. 
He that tholes \endures'\ overcomes. — Hislop. D. i. 549. 
Cf. Virgil, Aen. v. 710 ; Ovid, Art. Amat. \\. 197, Am. iii. 11. 7. 

ig8 

. . . Who-so wol han leef, he leef mot lete. 

Troilus, iv. 1585. 

(He who wants to have what he likes, must give up what he 
likes.) 
Nought lay down, nought take up (Heywood). 
Nought venture, nought have (id.). 
See also no. 164. 

199 

Thus maketh vertu of necessitee. 

Troilus, iv. 1586, 
To maken vertu of necessitee. — C. T., A 3042. 

... I made vertu of necessitee. — C. Z., F 593. 
G 2 



84 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

S'il ne fait de necessite "^txin.— Roman de la Rose, 142 17. 
There is no virtue like n&CQssMy.— Richard II, i. 3. 278. 
To make a virtue of necessity. — Two G. of Verona, iv. i. 62. 
Facere de necessitate uirtutem. — Hieronymus (Jerome) in 
Rufinum, 3. n. 2. Cf. D. i, 139. 

200 

. . . Love is thing ay ful of bisy drede. 

Troilus, iv. 1645. 
Res est solliciti plena timoris amor. — Ovid, Heroid. i. 12. 
Fie ! fie ! fond love, thou art so full of fear. — Venus and 
Adonis, 1021. 

201 

He is a fool that wol foryete himselve. 

Troilus, V. 98. 

// est bien fol qui s'oublie ; Prov. He is a right foole that 
forgets himself. — Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. 

I am not mad ; I would to heaven I were ! 
For then, 'tis like I should forget myself. 

K. John, iii. 4. 48-9. 

— Fortune his howve, &c. — Tyoilus, v. 469. 
See no. 166. 

202 

Be we comen hider 

To fecche fyr, and rennen hoom ayeyn ? 

Troilus, v. 484-5. 
To come to fetch fire (Hazlitt). 

— For he that nought n'assayeth, &c, 

Troilus^ V. 784. 
See no. 164. 



TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 85 

203 

Ye ! farewel al the snow of feme yere ! 

Trot'hts,\. 1176. 

(Yea ! farewell to all last year's snow ! Said of bidding adieu 
to something that will not be seen again.) Cf. no. 180. 

204 
But, Troilus! thou mayst now, est or west, 
Pype in an ivy-leef, if that thee lest. 

TroihiSy v. 1432-3. 

{est, east ; pype, whistle, blow, i. e. waste your time in childish 
play ; t^ee lest, it pleases thee.) 

He moot go pypen in an ivy-leef 

C. T., A 1838. 

Farwel the gardiner ! He may pype with an yve-lefe ; his 
frute is fayled.— Usk, Testament of Love, iii. 7. 49-5°- 
But let his brother blowe[n] in an horn, 
Where that him list, or pipe[n] in a rede. 

Lydgate, Storie of Thebes, pt. ii. § 14. 
Cf. Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn. 
He n'hadde for his labour but a scorn. 

C. T, A 3387-8. 

205 

Thinketh al nis but a fayre, 
This world, that passeth sone as floures fayre. 

Troihts,\. 1 840-1. 

For al is bot a chirie-feire 

This worldes good, so as thei telle. 

Gower, Confessio Amantis, Prol. 454. 



86 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

This lyf, my sone, is but a chirie-faire. — Hoccleve, De Regimine 
Prmcipum, 1289. 

(chirie-Jeire, a cherry-fair, a sale of fruit in cherry-orchards, 
a scene of thoughtless gaiety.) See Dyce's Skelton, ii. 85. 

206 

Hit is not al gold, that glareth. 

Hoits of Fame, 272. 
But al thing which that shyneth as the gold 
Nis nat gold, as that I have herd it told; 
Ne every appel that is fair at ye 
Ne is nat good, what-so men clappe or crye. 

C. T., G 962-5. 

Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum, 
Nee pulcrum pomum quodlibet esse bonum. 

Alanus de Insulis, Parabolae. 
All things that shineth is not by and by pure golde. — Udall, 
Royster Doyster, A. v. sc. I, 

All that glisters is not gold. — Merchant of Venice, ii. 7. 65. 
For every glittring thing is nat gold. — T. Usk, Testamott of 
Love, ii. 3. 47. 

Tout ce qui luit n'est pas or. — French proverb. 
Es ist nicht alles Golt das da glentzt. — Gartner, Diet. Prov. 
19. 51b (Kemble). 

A 's not gowd that glitters, nor maidens that wear their hair 
[go bare-headed']. — Hislop, Scot. Proverbs. Cf. D. i. 33. 

207 

. . . He that fully knoweth th'herbe 
May saufly leye hit to his ye. 

Ho7iS of Fame, 290-1, 
{saufly, safely ; ye, eye.) 



HOUSE OF FAME 87 

An herbe proved may safely to smertande sores ben layd.— 
T. Usk, Testa7)ient of Love, ii. 3. 1 1 5. 

{smertande, smarting.) 

L herbe qu'on cognoist, on la doit Her a son doigt ; Those, or 
that, which a man knowes best, he must use most.— Cotgrave, 
F. Dictionary, D. i. 936. 

208 

And mo loves casuelly 

That ben betid, no man wot why, 

But as a blind man stert an hare. 

Hous of Fame ,^ 679-81. 
(ino loves, more love-makings ; ben betid, happen ; stert, starts, 
sets off.) 

Compare the Scotch proverb :— By chance a cripple may grip 
a hare. — Hislop. 

The hare starts when a man least expects it (Hazlitt). 

— But men seyn, ' What may ever laste ? ' 

Hotis of Fame,, ii47- 
See no, 224. 

209 

For ye be lyk the sweynte cat 

That wolde have fish ; but, wostow what ? 

He wolde nothing wete his clowes. 

Notts of Fame, 1783-5. 
{sweynte, tired out, lazy ; zuostow, knowest thou ; nothing, not 
at all ; clowes, claws, paws.) 

As a cat wolde ete fisshes 
Withoute wetinge of his cles. 

Gower, Confessio Amantis, iv. 1 108-9. 

Thou woldest not weten thy fote ' and woldest fich cacchen.— 
Pierce the Ploughman^ s Crede, 405. 



88 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Letting ' I dare not ' wait upon * I would ', 
Like the poor cat i' the adage. — Macbeth, i. 7. 44-5. 
Catus amat piscem, sed non vult tingere plantam (Kemble). 
The cat doth love the fishe, but she will not wett her foote. — 
Rel. Ant! quae, i. 207. 

Le chat aime le poisson, mais il n'aime pas a mouiller la patte 
(Ray). 

Die Katze hatt' der Fische gem ; aber sie will die Fiisse nit 
nass machen. — German proverb. D. i. 871. 

210 

For who-so yeveth a yift, or doth a grace, 
Do hit by tyme, his thank is wel the more. 

Legend of Good Women ^ A 441-2. 

{Do, if he do ; by tyme, betimes ; thank, desert.) 
Inopi beneficium bis dat, qui dat celeriter. — Publilius Syrus, 
V. 235. 

Bis gratum est, quod dato opus est, ultro si oflferas. — Id. v. 4-|. 
Bis dat qui cito dat. D. i. 142. 

— Wry the gleed, &c. 

Legend of Good Women^ 735. 
See no. 162. 

— The whyte swan, &c. — Legend^ 1355- 
See no. 137. 

— Hap helpeth hardy man, &c. — Legend, 1773. 
See no. 189. 

211 

Ne that a monk, whan he is cloisterlees, 
Is lykned til a fish that is waterlees. 

C. T., A 179-80. 



CANTERBURY TALES 89 

Right as fishes in flod • whanne hem faileth water, 
Deyen for drouthe • whenne thei drye Hggen, &c. 

P. Plowman, C. vi. 149-50. 

Sicut piscis sine aqua caret vita, ita sine monasterio monachus. 
— Attributed to a pope Eugenius ; but it is adapted from the 
Greek. It occurs in Sozomen, Eccl. Hist. bk. i. c. 13 ; and still 
earlier, in a Life of St. Anthony (c. 85) attributed to St. Athana- 
sius, and not later than A. D. 373. And see no. 191 (above). 

212 

Eek Plato seith, who-so that can him rede, 
The wordes mote be cosin to the dede. 

C. T,, A 741-2. 

The w>'se Plato seith, as ye may rede. 
The word mot nede acorde with the dede. 

C. T.,H 207-8. 

Thou hast lerned by the sentence of Plato, that nedes 
the wordes moten be cosines to the thinges of which 
they spekQn.—Boe^Aws, bk. iii. prose 12. 151. 

Cf. Plato, Ttmaeus, 29 B. 

Like word, like deed (Hazlitt). 

See also Le Roman de la Rose, 15392. 

213 

At the kinges court, my brother, 
Ech man for himselt. C. Zl, A 1181-2. 

Every man for himself, and God for us all (Heywood). 
Quisque sibi proximus. — Proverb. 

Every man shift for all the rest, and let no man take care for 
himself; for all is but fortune ! — Tempest, v. i. 256. 



90 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

The old proverb — He is not wise, that is not wise for himself. 
— Greene, Lookinf^-glass for London, ii. 2 ; 1. 614. 

' I fought for my own hand,' said the Smith, indifferently ; 
and the expression is still proverbial in Scotland. — Scott, Fair 
Maid of Perth, ch. 34. D. i. 825. 

214 

We faren as he that dronke is as a mous. 

C. T., A 1261. 
Thou comest hoom as dronken as a mous. 

C. T., D 246. 

When that he is dronke as a dreynt [drowned] mous. — T/ie 
A/an in the Moon, 31. 

Dronken as a mouse 
At the ale-house. 

Skelton, Colyn Cloute, 803-4. 

[They] cum to mattens as dronck as mys. — Letters relating to 
the Suppressio7t of Monasteries (Camden Soc), p. 133. 

And I will pledge Tom Tosspot, till I be drunk as a mouse-a. 
Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, iii. 339. 

215 

As, when a thing is shapen, it shal be. 

C. r., A 1466. 
That shall be, shall be (Heywood). 
Che sera, sera : 
What will be, shall be. 

Marlowe, Dr. Fanstus, A. i. sc. i. 47. 

216 

But sooth is seyd, gon sithen many yeres, 
That ' feeld hath eyen, and the wode hath eres.' 

C. T.. A 1521-2. 

(sooth, truth ; gon sithen, gone since are.) 



CANTERBURY TALES 91 

Veld haueth ege, and v/ude haueth eare. 

Campus habet lumen, et habet nemus auris acumen. 

(The above two lines, of which the former means * the field 
has an eye, and the wood has an ear', occur together in MS. 
Trin. Coll. Camb. O. 2. 45.) Cf. D. i. 453. 

Bois ont oreilles, et champs oeillets : Woods have their ears, 
and fields their eies ; everything hath some instrument of, or 
help for, discovery.— Cotgrave, F. Dictionary^ s. v. Oeillet. 

217 

. . . Alday meteth men at unset stevene. 

C. r., A 1524. 

(For people continually meet at a time not previously agreed 
upon; and therefore, unexpected.) 

Hyt ys sothe seyd, be God of heven, 
Mony meten at on-sett stevyn. 

Sir Eglamour, 1282-3. 

Wee may chance to meet with Robin Hood 
Here att some unsett steven. 

Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, in 
Percy's Reliques of English Poetry. 
These children. 
Which accidentally are met together. 

Comedy of Errors^ v. I. 360-1. 

218 

Now in the croppe, now doun in the breres, 
Now up, now doun, as boket in a welle. 

C. r, A 1532-3. 
(Now in the top (of the tree), now down among the briars.) 
Now is this golden crown like a deep well 
That owes two buckets, filling one another, 



92 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

The emptier ever dancing in the air, 
The other down, unseen and full of water. 

Richard II, iv. l. 184. 

Like so many buckets in a well ; as one riseth, another falleth, 
one 's empty, another 's full. — Burton, Atiatomy of Melancholy, 

P-33- 

Did you e'er see a well with two buckets ? Whilst one comes 
up full to be emptied, another goes down empty to be filled. 
— The Malcontent, A. iii. sc. i. 



219 

Selde is the Friday al the wyke y-lyke. 

C. 7^., A 1539. 

(Seldom is Friday like other days in the week.) 
Fridays in the week Are never aleek (i.e. alike). — Devonshire 
proverb. See no. 64. 

Vendredi de la semaine est 
Le plus beau ou le plus laid. 

A. Jubinal, Recueil des Conies, p. 375. 



220 

Ful sooth is seyd, that love ne lordshipe 
Wol noght, his thankes, have no felaweshipe. 

C.T.,A 1625-6. 

Non bene conueniunt nee in una sede morantur 
Maiestas et Amor.— Ovid, Metam. ii. 846. 

Onques Amor et Seignorie 

Ne s'entrefirent companie, 

Ne ne demorerent ensemble. 

Rowafi de la Rose, 8487. 



CANTERBURY TALES 93 

For Love and Lordship bide no Paragone. — Spenser, Mother 
HubbercVs Tale, 1026. 

Love and high rule allow no rivals, brother. — Beaumont and 
Fletcher, Mons. Thomas, i. i. 

Empire, and more imperious Love, alone 
Rule, and admit no rivals. 

Id. Custom of the Country, i. i. 
Amor e signoria non vogliono compagnia (Love and Lordship 
like no fellowship). — Italian proverb. Cf. D. ii. 42. 



221 

Yet somtyme it shal fallen on a day 

That fall'th nat eft withinne a thousand yere. 

C. T., A 1668-9. 
{fallen, happen ; eft, again.) 

Hocfacit una dies, quod totus denegat annus.— Latin proverb. 
It chanceth in an hour, that comes not in seven years. 
Accasca in un punto quel che non accasca in cento anni ; 
Ital. — Ray. 

There is a tide in the affairs of men, &c. 

Jul. Caesar, iv. 3. 218. 
Cf. D. i. 371. 

— He moot go pypen, &c.— C Zl, A 1838. 
See no. 204. 

222 

Ther nys no newe gyse, that it nas old, 

C. T.,K 2125. 

{nys, is not ; £yse, fashion ; nas, was not.) 
There is no new thing under the sun. — Eccles. i. 9. 
If there be nothing new, but that which is 
Hath been before.— Shakespeare, Sonnet 59. 



94 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

223 

As fayn as fowel is of the brighte sonne. 

C. r, A 2437. 

{fowel, bird ; sonne, sun.) 

As fowel is fayn, whan that the sonne up-ryseth. 

C. r., B1241. 

Was never brid gladder agayn the day. 

C. T., G 1342. 

{l>nd, bird ; agayn, at seeing.) 

As fain as a fool [bird] 0' a fair day. — Hislop, Scot. Proverbs. 

Thanne was I also fayne • as foule of faire morwe. — Piers 
Plowman, B. x. 153. 

(Then was I as glad as a bird is of a fine morning.) 

Compare also : — For there was never fowl so fayn of May. — 
Troilus, V. 425. 

As blithe as bird of morning's light in May. — Tale of Troy ; 
in Peele's Works, ed. Dyce, p. 553. 

— Men may the olde at-renne, &c. — C. Zl, A2449. 
See no. 195. 

224 

Som tyme an ende ther is of every dede. 

C. T., A 2636. 

Although, as writers say, all things have end, 
And that we call a pudding hath his two. 

Beaumont and Fletcher, Knight of the 
Bttrning Pestle, i. i. 

The longest day hath his end (Heywood). 

Compare also '. — as every thing hath ende. — Troilus, iii. 615. 

But men seyn, ' What may ever laste ? ' — Hous of Fame, 1147. 



CANTERBURY TALES 95 

225 

Joy after wo, and wo after gladnesse. 

C.r., A 2841. 

Aftir sour, when swete is com, it is a plesant mes. — Tale of 
Beryn, 3688. 

{mes, a mess, a dish.) 

For aftir swete, the soure comyth. — Id, 898. 

Cf. no, 193 ; and the following : — 

But, after wo, I rede us to be merie. — C. T., A 3068. 

— To maken vertu, &c. — C. T.^ A 3042. 
See no. 199. 

226 
Men seyn right thus, ' alwey the nye slye 
Maketh the ferre leve to be looth.' 

C. T., A 3392. 

(i. e. the clever one who is close at hand makes the dear one, 
who is far off, to be disliked.) 

Fer from eye, fer from herte. — Hending, st. 27. 
He that is ute bi-loken, he is inne sone for-yeten. — Proverbs 
of Alfred, B 554. 

(He that is fastened outside, he is soon forgotten within.) 
An old sawe is, 'Who that is slyh 
In place where he mai be nyh. 
He makth the ferre lieve loth.' 

Gower, Cotif. Amantis, iii. 1899. 
Hert sun for-gettes that ne ei seis. — Cursor Mtmdt, 4508, 
Seldom seen, soon forgotten. — Hislop. 
Out of sight, out of mind. 

Quod raro cemit oculi lux, cor cito spemit (Kemble), 
Cf. D. i. 126. 
See Propertius, Eleg. iii. 21. 10. 



96 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

227 

Of paramours he sette nat a kers. 

C. r.,A3756. 

{setfe nat a kers, valued not at a cress.) 

For anger gaynes thee not a cresse. — Alliterative Poems, 

A343- 

Wisdom and witte now • is nought worth a carse. — Piers 
Plowman, B. x. 17. 

{carse, a cress, a plant of cress ; modern version ' curse ' !) 

And so to me nys worth a kerse. — Gower, Con/essio Amantis, 
iii. 588. 

Cf. 'Leye ther a bene,' i.e. stake a bean upon it. — Piers 
Plowman, C. xiii. 92, 

228 

He hadde more tow on his distaf 

Than Gerveys knew. C. Z"., A 3774-5. 

Towe on my dystaf have I for to spynne 
More . . . than ye wote of. 

Hoccleve, De Regimine Principum, 1226. 

II aura en bref temps autres estoupes en sa quenoille. — 
Froissart, vol. iv. p. 92 (ed. 1574). 

In shorte space he shall haue more flax to his dystafie than 
he can well spynne. — Lord Berners, tr. of Froissart, ii. 174. 

She hath other tow on her distaff (Hazlitt). 

229 

And yet ik have alwey a cokes tooth. 

C r.,A3888. 



CANTERBURY TALES 97 

But yet I hadde alvvey a coltes tooth. 

C. r., D 602. 

Young folks [are] most apt to love . . . the colt's evil is 
common to all complexions. — Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy ^ 
pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 2. subsec. i. 

Your colt's tooth is not cast yet. — Henry VIII, i. 3. 48. 

{colt, a young, inexperienced person.) 

To have a colt's tooth in one's head. — Proverb. 

230 

For leveful is, with force force of-showve. 

C. r.,A39i2. 

{le^ieful, allowable ; force of-showve, to repel force.) 
Vim vi repellere ; marginal note, in the Ellesmere MS. 
Cum vi vis illata defenditur.— Cicero, Pro Milone, iv. 9. 

231 

Nede has na peer. — C. Zl, A 4026. 

Nede ne hath no lawe.— Z*. Plowman, B. xx. 10. 
Necessitas non habet legem. — Id. C. xiv. 45. 
But it is an olde sayd sawe, 
That nede hath no lawe. 

Skelton, Colyn Clonte, 864-5. 
Cf. Ned maketh old wif urne (need makes the old wife run).— 
Owl and Nightingale, (ii%. D. ii. 191. 

232 

Him boes serve himself, that has na swayn. 

C. 2"., A. 4037. 

(He that has no servant, must serve himself.) 
The following line is :— 

Or elles he is a fool, as clerkes sayn. 
This implies that the expression was proverbial. 

SKEAT. E.E.P. H 



98 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

233 

The grettest clerkes been noght the w>'sest men. 

C. r, A4054. 

The beste clerkes ben not the wysest men. — Caxton, Reynard 
the Fox, ch. 27. 

And. I, and why not, sir ? for the greatest Clarices are not 
the wisest. — Grttn^, James IV, iii. 2 ; 1. 1237. 

The olde saw . . . that the greatest clearkes are not the wisest 
men. — Lyly, Euphues, p. 237. D. i. 574. 

234 

I have herd seyd, man sal taa of twa thinges, 
Slyk as he fyndes, or taa slyk as he bringes. 

C. T., A 4129-30. 

(A man must take (one) of two things, either such as he finds, 
or such as he brings. These lines imitate the dialect of the 
North of England.) 

— if this like you not, 
Take that you finde, or that you bring, for me. 

Greene, George a Greene, iv. 4 ; 1. 1002. 
If that like you not, take what you bring, for me. — Id. ii. 3 ; 

1. 539- 

If ye dinna like what I gie ye, tak what ye brought wi' ye. — 
Hislop, Scot. Proverbs. 

235 

With empty hand men may na haukes tulle. 

C. T., A 4134- 
(tu/^e, entice, allure.) 

With empty hand men may none haukes lure. 

C. r., D 415. 



CANTERBURY TALES 99 

With empty hand men may noon haukys lure, 
And lyke the audience, so uttir the language. 

Lydgate, Minor Poems ^ p. 174. 
Veteri celebratur proverbio : Quia vacuae manus temeraria 
petitio est. — John of Salisbury, Polycratictts^ lib. v. c. 10. 
Haggard hawks mislike an empty hand (Hazlitt). 
With empty fist no man doth falcons lure. — Webster, The 
White Devil, ed. Dyce, p. 29. 

A toom \empty\ hand is nae lure for a hawk. — Hislop. Cf. D. 
>• 443. 

— Unhardy is unsely. — C. 7^., A 4210. 
See no. 189. 

236 
Him thar nat wene wel that yvel doth. 

C. r., A 4320. 

(He must not expect good, that does evil.) 

Who thinketh il, no good may him befal. — Sir R. Ros, La 
Belle Dame, 397. 

He that evil does, never good weines (weens).— Ray, Proverbs 
(1737), p. 288. 

He that ill does, never good weens. — Hislop. 

He that doth what he should not, shall feel what he would 
not.— G. Herbert, Works, 1859, p. 327. 

Quae enim seminaverit homo, haec et metet.— Galat. vi. 8 (7) ; 
in the Vulgate version. See no. 247. 

237 

A gylour shal himself bigyled be. 

C. r., A 4321. 

And bygyle the gylour • and that is a good sleithe. — Piers 
Plowman, C. xxi. 166. 

H 2 



loo GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

That gylours be bygylid • and in here gyle falle.— P. P/., C, 
xxi. 385. 

Qui simulat verbis, nee corde est fidus amicus, 
Tu quoque fac simile, sic ars deluditur arte. 

P. PL, B. X. 1 90-1. 
{sleithe, sleight, trick. The Latin quotation is slightly altered 
from Dionysius Cato, Disticha, i. 26.) 

Begyled is the gyler thanne. — Rom. of the Rose, 5759. 
For often he that wol beguile 
Is guiled with the same guile, 
And thus the guilour is beguiled. 

Gower, Conf. Amant. vi. 1 379. 

Cf. Ps. vii. 16, ix, 15. D. ii. 521. 

238 

Sooth pley, quaad pley, as the Fleming seith. 

C 7^., A 4357. 

{Sooth, true ; quaad, evil, bad : Dutch kwaad.) 
Hold, sir, for God's sake ! now your jest is earnest. — Comedy 
of Errors, ii. 2. 24. 

Sooth bourd is no bourd. — Heywood. 

True jest is no jest. — Id. 

The sooth bourd is nae bourd. — Scott, Redgauntlet, ch. 12. 

239 

Wei bet is roten appel out of hord 
Than that it rotie al the remenaunt, 

C. T:, A 4406-7. 

The rotten apple injures its neighbour. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 
Pomum compunctum cito corrumpit sibi iunctum. — D. i. 354. 
One scabbed sheep 's enough to spoil a flock (Hazlitt). 



CANTERBURY TALES loi 

A roted eppel among the holen maketh rotie the y-zounde. — 
Ayenbite of Inwyt^ p. 205. 

240 

Lordinges, the tyme wasteth night and day, 
And steleth from us. — C Z!, B 20-1. 

For thogh we slepe or wake, or rome, or ryde, 
Ay fleeth the tyme, it nil no man abyde. 

C. T.,E 1 18-9. 
The tyme, that passeth night and day, . . . 
And steleth from us so prively . . . 
And certes, it ne resteth never. 
But goth so faste, and passeth ay. 

Roinaunt of the Rose^ 369-75. 

Cito pede labitur aetas. — Ovid, Aj's Amatoria, iii. 65. 
Time and tide wait for no man (Hazlitt). 

241 

Biheste is dette. — C. Zl, B 41. 

(A promise is a debt.) 

And of a trewe man, beheste is dette. — Hoccleve, De Reg. 
Princ, 1772. 
Yet promyse is dette, this ye well wot. — Everyman, 1. 821. 

242 

For swiche lawe as man yeveth another wight. 
He sholde him-selven usen it by right. 

C. T., B 43-4. 

Patere legem quam ipse tulisti. — Latin proverb. 

El que ley establece, guardarla debe.— Spanish proverb. 



I02 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

In commune iubes si quid censesue tenendum, 

Primus iussa subi. 

Claudian, Fourth Consulate of Honorius^ 296. 
They that make laws must not break them (Hazlitt). 
Law-makers shouldna be law-breakers. — Hislop. 

243 

If thou be povre, thy brother hateth thee, 
And alle thy frendes fleen fro thee, alas ! 

C. T., B 1 20-1. 

And if thy fortune change, that thou wexe povre, 

farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe ! — C. Zl, B 2749. 

Fratres hominis pauperis oderunt eum ; insuper et amici 
procul recesserunt ab eo. — Prov. xix. 7 (Vulgate). 

Donee eris felix, multos numerabis amicos, 
Tempera si fuerint nubila, solus eris. 

Ovid, Trist. i. 9. 5. 
Cf. Ecclus. vi. 12 ; and no. 254. 

— O sodeyn wo! — C. Z!, B 421. 
See no. 193. 

244 

Ther dronkenesse regneth in any route, 
Ther is no conseil hid, withouten doute. 

C. T., B ^'j^-T. 

Ther is no privetee ther- as regneth dronkenesse. 

Tale of Melibetis, B 2384. 
For dronkenesse is verray sepulture 
Of mannes wit and his discrecioun. 

c r., c 558-9. 



CANTERBURY TALES 103 

Nullum secretum est ubi regnat ebrietas. — Prov. xxxi. 4 
(Vulgate ; not in A. V.). 

Quid non ebrietas designat ? Operta recludit. — Horace, Ep. 
. 5. 16. 

What soberness conceals 
Drunkenness reveals (Hazlitt). 
Also \n Cursor Mimdi, 7229. D. ii. 486. 

—As fowel is fain, &c.— C. T., B 1241. 

See no. 223. 

245 

For sely child wol alday sone lere. — C. T., B 170a. 

Sely child is sone ylered.— Hending, st. 9. 

For sell child is sone ilered. — Life of Beket, 158. 

{sely, good, forward ; alday, always ; sofie lere, soon learn ; 
ylered, taught.) 

Gude bairns are eith to lear [good children are easy to teach]. — 
Hislop. 

Compare the following : — 

Luef child lore byhoueth.— Hending, st. 5. 

(Teaching is necessary for a beloved child.) 

The leuere childe • the more lore bihoueth.— /*. Plowman, 
B. V. 38. 

{leuere, dearer.) See Prov. xiii. 24. 

246 

Mordre wol out.— C T., B 1766, 4242. 

For-thi men sais into this tyde, 
Is no man that murthir may hide. 

Cursor Mundi, 1083-4. 



I04 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

I drede mordre wolde come out. — Skelton, Boivge of Courte, 
524. 

Murder cannot be hid long. — Merchant of Venice, ii. 2. 83. 

I feared as much ; murder cannot be hid. — Marlowe, Edw. II, 
A. V. so. 6. 

Other sins only speak ; murder shrieks out. — Webster, Duchess 
of Malfi, iv. 2. 

Murder, I see, cannot be hid. — Webster, Westward Ho, v. 4. 

Cf. Ther may no man hele \conceaI\ murdir, that it [ne] woll 
out atte last. — Tale of Beryn, 2293. 



247 

Yvel shal have, that yvel wol deserve. 

C. r., B 1822. 

Cf. Ne the vyces no ben nevermo vvithoute "^tyne.—Boethius, 
bk. iv. prose I. ^y. 

. . . medes to goode men, and torments to wikked men. — 
Boethms, bk. v. prose 6. 212. 

Ne ec ne scule ye nefre ufel don thet ye hit ne sculen mid 
uuele bitter abuggen (nor moreover shall ye ever do any evil 
without bitterly expiating it by suffering). — Old English Homilies, 
ed. Morris, Ser. i, p. 41. 

Ill be to him that so much ill bethinks. — Peele, Battle of 
Alcazar, A. v. prol. 1. i. 

See above, no. 236. 

248 

The commune proverbe seith thus — ' He that sone 
demeth, sone shal repente.' — C. T., B 2220. 

The corresponding Latin text has : — Ad poenitendum properat 
qui cito iudicat. — Publilius Syrus, Sententiae (1880), 32. 



CANTERBURY TALES 105 

Compare the Scotch proverb: — Dame, deem warily, ye 
watna wha wytes yoursel [you kncnv not who blames yourselJ\ — 
Hislop. 

— Whyl that iron is hoot, &c.— C T., B 2226. 

See no. 169. 

—He hasteth wel, &c.— C T., B 2244. 
See no. 156. 

249 

Three thinges dry ven a man out of his hous : that is 
to seyn, smoke, dropping of reyn, and wikked wyves. 

C. T., B 2276. 

Thow seyst that dropping houses, and eek smoke, 
And chyding wyves, maken men to flee 
Out of hir owene hous. — C. T., D 278-80. 

Tria sunt enim quae non sinunt hominem in domo permanere ; 
fumus, stillicidia, et mala uxor. — Innocens Papa, De contempitt 
inundi, i. 18. (Compiled from Prov. x. 26,xix. 13, and xxvii. 15.) 

Ac thre thynges ther beoth " that doth a man to sterte 

Out of his owene hous ' as holy writ sheweth. 

That on is a wikkede wif • that wol nat be chasted ; 

Hure fere fleeth fro huere • for fere of huere tounge. 

And yf hus hous be vnheled • and reyne on hus bedde, 

He seketh and seketh • til he slepe drye. 

Ac when smoke and smorthre • smit in hus eyen, 

Hit doth hym wors than hus wyfe ' other wete to slepe. 

P. Plowman, C. xx. 297-304. 

{beoth, be ; doth, cause ; sterte, start, go ; that on, the one ; 

chasted, rebuked ; Hure fere, Her mate ; huere, her ; vnheled, 

untiled ; reyne, it rains ; smorthre, smother, vapour ; smit, 

smiteth ; doth, makes ; other wete, or wetness.) 



io6 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Fumus, et mulier, et stillicidia Expellunt hominem a domo 
propria. — W. Mapes, ed. Wright, p. 83. 

Sunt tria dampna domus, imber, mala femina, fumus. — 
Proverb. 

Smoke, rain, and a very curst wife 
Make a man weary of house and life. 

Quoted by Hazlitt. 
I think 'tis lyke to a curst wyfe in a lytle house, that never 
leaves her husband till she have driven him out at doores with 
a wet paire of eyes. — Arden of Fever sham, iv. 2. 12. 

A house wi' a reek [smoke] and a wife wi' a reard [loud voice] 
will mak a man rin to the door. — Hislop. Cf. D. i. 303. 

— Ther is no privitee, &c. — C. T.^ B 2384. 
See no. 244. 

250 

And Salomon seith, ' if thou hast founden hony, 
ete of it that suffyseth ; for if thou ete of it out ot 
mesure, thou shalt spewe.' — C. Zl, B 2606. 

From Prov. xxv. 16. 

The man that moche hony eteth • his mawe it engleymeth. 
—P. PL, B. XV. 56. 

(i. e. too much honey cloys the stomach.) 

There is no surfeit so dangerous as that of honey. — Lyly, 
Alexander and Campaspe, ii. 2. 

— And if thy fortune change, &c. — C. 7"., B 2749. 

See no. 243. 

251 

. . . right as men seyn, that Over-greet hoomlinesse 
engendreth dispreisinge. — C. Z"., B 2876. 

As muche familiaritie oftentimes breeds contempt. — Minsheu, 



CANTERBURY TALES 107 

Dialogues in Spanish and English (1623), p. 65 (misnumbered 

67). 

I hope, upon familiarity will grow more contempt. — Slender, 
in Merry Wives, i. i. 257. 



252 

The prophete seith, that troubled eyen han no cleer 
sighte.— C. r., B 2891. 

A T<ril malade la lumilre nuit, an eie distempered cannot 
brook the light ; sick thoughts cannot endure the truth. — 
Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. 

253 

Ful oft in game a sooth I have herd seye. 

C. 7:,B3i54. 

Many a true word is spoken in jest (Hazlitt). See no. 238. 

254 

For what man that hath freendes through fortune, 
Mishap wol make hem enemies, I gesse ; 
This proverbe is full sooth and ful commune. 

C. T., B 3434-6. 

Cf. Certes, swiche folk as weleful fortune maketh freendes, 
contrarious fortune maketh hem enemys.— Chaucer, tr. of 
Boethius, bk. iii. prose 5. Cf. Prov. xix. 4 ; Ecclus. vi. 12. 
In time of prosperity, friends will be plenty ; 
In time of adversity, not one among twenty. 

Howell ; quoted by Hazlitt. 

When we want, friends are scant. — Hislop. See no. 243. 



io8 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

255 

But ay fortune hath in hir hony galle. 

C. 7^.,B3537. 

The wordes of Ovide, that seith — ' under the hony of the godes 
of the body is hid the venim that sleeth the soule.' — C. T., 
B 2605. 

Impia sub dulci melle uenena latent.— Ovid, Amor. i. 8. 104. 

Hir galle is hid under a sugred wede. — Lydgate, A Balade 
warning Men, 26. 

256 

Mtther est hominis con/usi'o.— C. 7"., B 4354. 

It that wommen were nat goode . . . our Lord God 
of hevene wolde never han wroght hem, ne called hem 
help of man, but rather confusioun of man. — C. Z'., 
B 3295-6. 

Mulier, &c., occurs in Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum 
Historiale, x. 71. 

A woman, as saith the philosofre, is the confusioun of man, 
insaciable, &c. — Dialogue of Creatures, cap. cxxi. 

— For ever the latter ende, &c. — C. T.^ B 4395. 
See no. 193. 

257 

Wommennes counseils ben ful ofte colde. 

C. Z:, B 4446. 

{colde, i. e. baneful, fatal.) 



CANTERBURY TALES 109 

Eek som men han seyd, that ' the conseillinge of 
wommen is outher to dere, or elles to litel of prys.' 
— C. T., B 2386. 

Cold red is quene red (cold advice is women's advice). — 
Proverbs of Alfred, A 336. 

Kold eru opt kvenna-rd6 (cold, i. e. fatal, are often women's 
counsels). — Icelandic Proverb. Cf. D. i. 486. 

258 

For wyne and youthe doon Venus encrese, 
As men in fyr wol casten oile or grece. 

C. T., C 59-60. 

But wine, alas! was oil to th' fire.— Cowley, The Mistress: 
The Incurable, st. 4. 

Ase oyle other grese alighteth and strengtheth thet uer. — 
Ayenbite of Inivyt, p. 205. 

(As oil or grease brightens and strengthens the fire.) 

To cast oil into the fire is not the way to quench it.— Proverb. 

Vina parant animos, faciuntque caloribus aptos. — Ovid, Ars 
Amat. i. 237. Oleum adde camino. — Horace, Sat. ii. 3. 321. 

259 

A theef of venisoun, that hath forlaft 
His likerousnesse, and al his olde craft, 
Can kepe a forest best of any man. 

c. r., c 83-5. 

{forlaft, given up ; likerousnesse, greedy appetite.) 

Set a thief to take a thief (Ray). 

There is no warier keeper of a park, 
To prevent stalkers or your nightwalkers, 
Than such a man as in his youth hath been 
A most notorious deer-stealer. 

Webster, The Devil's Law-case, i. 2. 



no GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

260 

Under a shepherd softe and negligent 

The wolf hath many a sheep and lamb to-rent. 

C. T.,C loi-a. 

Hoow ! hurde ! wher is thyn hounde ' and thyn hardy herte 
For to wyrie the wolf • that thy woolle fouleth ? 

P. Plowman, C. x. 267-8. 
{to-rent., rent in pieces ; hurde, shepherd ; wyrie, worry.) 
Sub molli pastore capit lanam kipus, et grex 
Incustoditus dilaceratur eo. 

Alanus de Insulis, Liber Par abol arum, i. 31. 

So flies the reckless shepherd from the wolf. — 3 Henry VI, 
V. 6. 7. 

— For dronkenesse, &c. — C. T.^Q 558. 

See no. 244. 

261 

And lightly as it comth, so wol we spende. 

C. T., C 781. 

Ce qui est venu par la fieute s'en retourne avec le tabourin, 
that the pipe hath gathered, the tabour scattereth ; goods ill 
gotten are commonly ill spent. — Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. 

Lightly come, lightly go. — Proverb. 

Wie gewonnen, so zerronnen. — German. 

Tis gone, Doll, tis flown ; merely ^merrily'X come, merely 
gon. — Life of Sir John Oldcastle, A. iii. sc. 3. 

Male partum male disperit. — Plautus, Poenulus, iv. 2. 22. 

Soon gotten, soon spent. — Hislop. 

262 

For peril is bothe fyr and tow t'assemble. 

C. T., D 89. 



CANTERBURY TALES iii 

But of wymmen hyt ys grete wundyr, 
Hyt fareth wyth hem as fyre and tundyr. 

Rob. of Brunne, Handlyfig Synne, 7924. 
{hem, them ; tundyr, tinder.) 
Fire is not to be quenched with tow. — Hazlitt. 
When the man 's fire and the wife 's tow, the deil comes in and 
blaws 't in lowe [Jlcwie}. — Hislop. 

Flame and flaxe ! flame and flaxe ! — Life of Sir John 
Oldcastle, A. ii. sc. 2. 

Meale and salt, wheat and mault, fire and tow, frost and 
snow ! — Id.^ A. iii. sc. 2. D. i. 460. 

263 

Who-so that nil be war by other men^ 
By him shal othere men corrected be. 

C. r., D 180-1. 

Qui per alios non corrigitur, alii per ipsum corrigentur. — 
Marginal note in MS. 

Who-so nul by othir beo chast, 
Overthrowe he schal in hast. 

King Alisaunder, 3039. 
They beon worthy to have care 
That nulleth by othre beo war. — Id. 3029. 
See no. 176. 

— Thou comest hoom as dronken,&c. — C. 71, D 246, 
See no. 214. 

264 

Ne noon so gray goos goth ther in the lake, 

As, seistow, that wol been withoute a make. 

C. T., D 269-70. 
{seistow, sayest thou ; 7nake, mate.) 



112 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Every Jack must have his Jill. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

Every Jack will find a Gill. — Scott, Sf, Ronan^s Well, ch. 2. 

Joan's as good as my lady in the dark (Hazlitt.). 

— Thow seyst that dropping houses, &c, 

C. r.,D278. 

See no. 249. 

265 

The wyse astrologien Dan Ptholome 
That seith this proverbe in his Almageste, 
' Of alle men his wisdom is th' hyeste, 
That rekketh never who hath the world in honde.' 

C. T., D 324. 

Inter omnes altior existit qui non curat in cuius manu sit 
mundus. — (Written in the margin of the Ellesmere MS. opposite 
the above passage.) 

Inter homines hie est altior qui non curat in cuius manu sit 
mundus. — Higden, PolycJironicon, v. 26. {Mundtfs, the wealth 
of this world. The proverb refers to the contented man, who is 
not envious of the rich.) 

266 

Who-so that first to mille comth, first grint. 

C. 7;, D 389. 

(He first grinds, who comes first to the mill.) 

Ante molam primus qui venit, non molat imus. — Proverb. 

Qui premier arrive au inotilin, le premier doit mouldre ; 
Prov. The first comer is to be served first. — Cotgrave, F. Diet., 
s. V. Mouldre. 

First come, first served. — Proverb. 



CANTERBURY TALES 113 

367 

Deceite, weping, spinning God hath yive 
To woramen kindely, whyl they may live. 

C. T., D 401-2. 

{yive^ given ; kindely^ by nature.) 

Fallere, flere, nere dedit Deus in muliere. — Marginal note 
in MS. 

Ut flerent oculos erudiere suos.— Ovid, Rem. Am, 690. 

Women, of kinde, have condicions three ; 
The first is, that they be fulle of deceit ; 
To spinne also it is hir propertee ; 
And women have a wonderful conceit. 
They wepen oft, and al is but a sleight. 

Lydgate, Of Deceitful Women, 29-33. 
Cf. Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie, bk. i. ch. 7. D. ii. 608. 

268 

Winne who-so may, for al is for to selle. 

C. T., D 414. 

Everything has its price. 

—With empty hand, &c.— C. T., D 415. 
See no. 235. 

269 

... In his owene grece I made him frye 
For angre, and for verray jalousye. 

C. T., D 487-8. 
Beter it is that we out renne 
Thenne as wrehches in house to brenne, 
And frye inne oure owne gres ! 

Richard Coer de Lion, 4407-9. 
(out renne, run out ; Thenne, than ; brenne, burn.) 

SKEAT. E. E. r. J 



114 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Thus is he fryed in his owene gres, 
To-rent and torn with his owene rage. 

Lydgate, Temple of Glas\ ed. Schick, p. 14. 

{To'Venty rent in pieces ; ivith^ by.) 
She fryeth in hir owne grease, but as for my parte, 
If she be angry, beshrew her angry harte. 

Heywood, pt. i. c. 11 ; quoted by Hazhtt, p. 416. 



270 

I holde a mouses herte nat worth a leek, 
That hath but oon hole for to sterte to ; 
And if that faille, thanne is al y-do. 

C. T., D 572.4. 

Mus miser est antro qui tantum clauditur uno. — Kemble, 
Salomon, p. 57. 

Moult a soris povre secors, 
Et fait en grant peril sa druge. 
Qui n'a c'ung partuis k refuge. 

Roman de la Rose, 13354. 

{soris, mouse ; druge, retreat ; partuis, hole.) 

The mouse that hath but one hole is easily taken. — Proverb. 

It's a sairy mouse that has but ae hole. — Hislop. D. i. 384. 

271 

Who so that buildeth his hous al of salwes, 
And prikketh his blinde hors over the falwes, 
And suffreth his wyf to seken halwes, 
Is worthy to been hanged on the galwes. 

C. T., D 655-8. 



CANTERBURY TALES 115 

Who that byldeth his hovvse all of salos, 
And prikketh a blynde horse over the falowes, 
And sufifereth his wif to seke many halos, 
God sende hym the blisse of everlasting galos ! 

Reliquiae Antiquae^ i. 233. 

{salos, salwes, willow trees ; falwes, fallow-lands ; seke halos, 
seek saints, go on pilgrimages.) 

Non des . . . mulieri nequam ueniam prodeundi. — Ecclus. xxv. 
34 (Vulgate); 25 (A. V.) 

272 

For though this Somnur wood were as an hare. 

a 7;, D 1327. 

[wood, mad.) 

As mad as a March hare. — Proverb. 

And be as braynles as a Marshe hare. — Colyn BloboVs 
Testatnent, 303 ; in Hazlitt, Popular Poetry, i. 105. 

Are not midsomer hares as mad as march hares ? — Heywood, 
Epigrams, 2nd Hundr. 1562, 95. 

(No ; they are wildest in March, during the breeding season.) 



I spare nat to taken, God it woot, 
But- if it be to hevy or to hoot, 
What I may gete in conseil prively. 

C. T., D 1435-7. 

{But-if, unless ; to hoot, too hot to hold.) 

A taker and a bribing [robbing] feloe, and one for whom 
nothing was to hotte nor to heauie. — Udall, Apophthegmes ; 
Cicero, § 50. 

I 2 



ri6 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Their loues they on the tenter-hookes did racke, 
Rost, boy I'd, bak'd, too too much white, claret, sacke, 
Nothing they thought too heauy nor too hot, 
Canne followed canne, and pot succeeded pot. 

John Taylor, Pennilesse Pilgrimage, 
II ne trouve rien trap chaud, ny trap pesant. — Cotgrave, 
s. V. Chaud. 

Ne laissoient riens a prendre, s'il n'estoit trop chaud, trop 
froid, ou trop pesant. — Froissart, Chr07i., vol. i. c. 229. 

Nothing was to hot, nor to deere for me. — Puritain IVidowe, 
A. I. sc. I. 

274 

Thou shalt me finde as just as is a squire. 

C. T.,T> 2090. 

{as just, &c. ; as exact as is a measuring-square.) 

Cf. By compas cast, and squared out by squyers. — Lydgate, 

Siege of Troye, ed. 1555, fol. F 5, back, col. I. 
A Vesquierre, justly, directly, evenly, straightly ; by line and 

levell, to a haire. — Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. 

275 

For what man that is entred in a play, 
He nedes moot unto the play assente. 

C T:, Eio-ii. 

Ki en jeu entre jeu consente (He who enters into a game, 
approves of it). — Le Roux de Lincy, Proverbes Frangais, ii. 85. 

' Play the game ', i. e. play fairly. 

Compare the Scotch proverb : — Every play maun be played, 
and some maun be the players. — Hislop. 

In D. ii. 380, the Dutch equivalent is — Die in het spel komt, 
moet spelen (He who comes to the game, must play). 



CANTERBURY TALES 117 

— For thogh we slepe or wake, &c. — C. Zl, E 118, 

See no. 240. 

276 

Be ay of chere as light as leef on llnde, 

C. T.,E 121 1 

Was neuere leef upon lynde • lighter ther-after. — P. PL, B. 

i. 154. 

(leefe 7ipon lynde, leaf on a linden tree or lime-tree.) 

Ther nas no lynde so liht * as these two ItodQS.— Joseph of 

Arimathie, ed. Skeat, 1. 585. 
{nas, was not ; leodes, persons, men.) 
Cf. lyghte as lynde.— Skelton, Bowge of Court, 231. 
I am als light as birde on bowe (as happy as a bird on 

a bough). — York Plays, xxv. 388. 



277 

For, God it woot, he sat ful ofte and song 
Whan that his shoo ful bitterly him wrong. 

C. T., D 4«2. 

But I wot best wher wringeth me my sho. 

C. T., E 1553. 

{song, sang ; shoo, sho, shoe ; wrong; wrung, pinched.) 
Legimus quendam apud Romanes nobilem, cum eum amici 
arguerent quare uxorem formosam et castam et diuitem repu- 
diasset, protendisse pedem, et dixisse eis : Et hie soccus quem 
cernitis uidetur uobis nouus et elegans, sed nemo scit praeter 
me ubi me premat. — Hieronimus, contra louiniaiium, lib. i. 
Epist. ii. 52 (Basil. 1524). 
I know best where the shoe wringeth me (Hazlitt). 



ii8 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Cada uno sabe adonde le aprieta el zapato (the wearer best 
knows where the shoe pinches him). — Span, proverb. D. i. 834. 

278 

For love is blind al day, and may nat see. 

C. T., E 1598. 

Speed. Because Love is blind. — Two Gent, of Verona^ ii. 
I. 76. 

Claiidio. Love is blind, man. — Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Women Pleased, i. i. 
Cf. D. i. 243. 

279 
As many hedes, as many wittes ther been. 

C. r.,F203. 

How many hedis, als feil consatis been. — G. Douglas, tr. of 
Virgil, prol. to bk. iv, 1. 16. 
{hedis, heads, men ; als feil, so many.) 

So many heads, so many wits — fie, fie ! 
Is't not a shame for Proverbs thus to lie ! 
My selfe, though my acquaintance be but small. 
Know many heads that have no wit at all. 

Camden, Remaines, ed. 1657, sig. Gg. 

Quot homines tot sententiae. — Terence, Phorniio, ii. 4. 14. 
Autant de testes, autant d^ophiions. — Cotgrave. 
Cf. D. ii. 544. 

280 

And for to maken other be war by me, 
As by the whelp chasted is the leoun. 

C. T., F 490-1. 

(To make others take warning by me, as the lion is rebuked 
by seeing a dog beaten.) 

Beat the dog before the lion. — G. Herbert, /rtr///a Pruden/ion. 



CANTERBURY TALES 119 

Batre le chien devant le Lion, to punish a mean person in the 
presence, and to the terror of, a great one. — Cotgrave, F. 
Dictionary, 

You are but now cast in his mood, a punishment more in 
poHcy than in malice ; even so as one would beat his offenceless 
dog to affright an imperious lion. — Othello, ii. 3. 272. 

281 

A trew wight and a theef thenken nat oon. 

C. r.,F537. 

{thenken nat oon, think not alike.) 

Honest men never have the love of a rogue. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

Compare the following : — 

Alas ! I see a serpent, or a theef 

That many a trewe man hath doon mischeef. 

C. T., A 1325. 
If you meet a thief, you may suspect him ... to be no true 
man. — Mttch Ado, iii. 3. 53. 

— I made vertu of necessitee. — C. Zl, F 593. 
See no. 199. 

282 
Therfor bihoveth him a ful long spoon 
That shal ete with a feend — thus herde I seye. 

C r., F 602-3. 

Ithamore. Yes, sir, the proverb says, he that eats with the 
devil had need of a long spoon. I have brought you a ladle. — 
Marlowe, yi^w of Malta, A. iii. sc. 4. 

This is a devil, and no monster ; I will leave him ; I have no 
long spoon. — Te/npest, ii. 2. 103. 

Marry, he must have a long spoon that must eat with the 
devil. — Comedy of Errors, iv. 3. 64. 



I20 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Here's a latten spoon, and a long one, to feed with the devil. 
—Webster, The Devil's Law-case, iv, 2. 

{latten, a mixed metal, like pinchbeck.) 

He needs a lang-shanket spoon that sups kail \vi' the deil. — 
Hislop. Cf. D. ii. 440. 

— Patience is an heigh vertu, &c. — C. T., F 773. 

See no. 197. 

283 
That that is overdoon, it wol nat preve 
Aright (as clerkes seyn), it is a vyce. 

C. r.,G 645-6. 
(That which is overdone, will not work out right.) 
Omne quod est nimium uertitur in uicium. (The first four 
words are written in the margin of the Ellesmere MS.) Cf. Omne 
nimium nocet. Ne quid nimis. — Terence, A?idria, i. i. 34. 

Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines. — Horace, Sat, 
i. I. 106. 
Too much cunning undoes. — Proverb (Hazhtt). 
tJlr]hiv-ayav. See D. i. 37, 38. 

Euerich thing me mei ouerdon. — Ancreti Rhule, p. 286. 
(One may overdo everything.) 

Evrich thing mai losen his godhede 
Mid unmethe and mid over-dede. 

Owl and Nightingale, 351. 
(Everything may lose its goodness by want of moderation and 
by excess.) 
See no. 25, 

— For unto shrewes, &c.— C T., G 746. 
See no. 152. 

— But al thing which that shyneth, &c. 

See no. 206. C. 7"., G 962. 



INDEX 



H5 



never tell your foe, &c., 73. 
never tell your wife everything, 

40. 
new love drives out the old, 186. 
night dark, morrow glad, 154. 
nine days wonder, a, 188. 
no day like another, 64. 
no new thing, 222. 
no one esteemed only for his 

song, 32. 
none is so wise, &c. , 4. 
not too hasty, 155. 
not worth a cress {P. PI. B. 10. 

17, C. A. 3. 588), 227. 
nothing venture, nothing have, 

164, 198. 
now up, now down, 218. 

-oak grows from a small shoot, 

171. 
of all trades, thieves are most 

hung, 90. 
of an unbought hide, &c., 86. 
of two evils, choose the less, 161. 
old sin makes new shame, 56. 
one cannot make a sparrow-hawk 

of a buzzard, 6r. 
one drop of poison, &c., 2. 
one may bring a horse, &c., i. 
one may outrun the wise, 195. 
one ought to show goodwill, 49 
one's own is one's own, 85. 
oportet and pati, 112. 
other men's lives warn us, 58. 
out of sight, out of mind {H. 27, 

Alf. B. 554, C. A. 3. 1899, 

C. M. 4508), 226. 

part ; see lose. 

patience conquers (P. PL C. 14. 

203, 16. 138, C. A. 3. 1639}, 

197. 
pedlar's pity of cats, 108. 
pepper in the nose, 114. 
Peter, to rob, 296. 

SKEAT. E. E. r. 



pipe iu an ivy-leaf, to, 204. 

pitch, to touch, 294. 

play the game, 275. 

pleasant is one's own fireside, 75. 

poke, dogs in a, 301. 

(the) poor man loses his friends, 

243- 
proifered service stinks, 138, 285. 
promise is debt, 241. 
proof tries all things, 63. 

qui bien aime (C. 71/. 4510), 141. 

rack and manger, 302. 

remedy of love is to flee, 136. 

rich ; see wisest. 

rob Peter to pay Paul, 296. 

rod for your own back, 153. 

(a) rolling stone gathers no moss, 

103. 
rootless plants die, 192. 
rotten apples injure others, 239. 
(to) row against the stream, 39. 

safety is good, 14. 

said is said, 291. 

scorpion's sting, 117. 

seldom comes the loan back, 84. 

seldom does the hated man end 

well, 33. 
servant ; see he that, 
shepherd, a careless, 260. 
(the) shoe wrings me, I know 

where, 277. 
(he) shuns those that know him, 

30. 
six and seven, at, 190. 
sleeping dog, do not wake a, 178. 
smith, a good, may make a weak 

knife, 16. 
smoke, rain, and a scolding wife 

(P. PI. C. 20. 297), 249. 
so many countries, so many laws 

(//. 4), 158. 



146 



INDEX 



so many heads, so many wits, 279. 
soon got, soon spent, 261. 
soon ripe, soon rotten, 119. 
sooth play, quad [evil] play, 238, 
sow and reap, 36. 
spare well and spend well, 133. 
sparrow-hawk and buzzard, 61. 
speak of Robin Hood, 165. 
speechless, none can speed, 131. 
strength yields to counsel {O. 

and N. 762 ; Alf. 641), 195. 
strike when the iron is hot, 169. 
(the) sun shines on a muck-heap, 

&c. (//. 5. 2299), 295. 
swan's song, 137. 



take what you find or what you 
bring, 234. 

tell your wife, do not, 40. 

the better thou art, the better 
beware, 81. 

(a) thief makes a good game- 
keeper, 259. 

thing said, is said, 291. 

think before you act (//. S. 8085'), 

159- 
third heir sells all, loi. 
three things drive a man out of 

doors {P. PI. C. 20. 297), 249. 
tidings from mill and market, 18. 
time flies, 240. 
tongue breaks bone, 79. 
tongue, power of the, 17. 
tongue, to hold one's, 174. 
too heavy or too hot, 273. 
too late, when the chance is past, 

160. 
too much, he that grasps at, 5. 
too much is bad {A. R. 286, O. 

and N. 351), 283, 
touch pitch, to, 294. 
tow on his distaff, 228. 
tree (a great), has a great fall, 172. 
troubled eyes ; see eyes, 
true jest is no jest, 238. 



true man and a thief, 142, 281. 

truth prevails, 96. 

truth spoken in jest, 253. 

turn cat in the pan, 298. 

(of) two evils, choose the less, i6r. 

under bush abide the storm, 82. 

untruth brings ruth, 66. 

up and down, like buckets, 218. 

venom destroys venom, 117. 
virtue of necessity, to make a, 199, 

warned, he who will not be, &c. 

{K. A. 3029, 3039\ 263. 
water added to the Thames^ 115. 
weathercock, like a, 147. 
(a) web ill-spun soon comes out, 

91. 
well abides he who can well suffer, 

197. 
well bestowed is the food he 

eats, 55. 
well fights, who well flies {H. 10, 

O. and N. 176), 72, 136; cf. 34. 
well for him who feeds a good 

man, 54. 
well for him who has a good child, 

57- 
well thrives he whom God loves, 

50- 

what cannot be cured, 112. 

what he gets by thieving is care- 
fully hidden, 134. 

what is bred in the bone, 29. 

what is overdone, is bad, 283. 

what will be, shall be, 215. 

what youth is used to, age re- 
members, 99. 

when grooms and masters are 
equal, 125. 

when the cup is fullest, &c., 77- 

when the evil is greatest, 83. 

whole as a trout, 47. 



INDEX 



147 



wine and youth increase love, 258 . 
wise man, greet the, 10. 
wise men are caught, 4. 
wise men learn by a fool's mis- 
takes (//. 5. 8o86\ 176. 
wise was he who first gave gifts, 

53- 

wisest is he who recks not who 
is rich, 265. 

wit and wisdom are a good store, 
68. 

without wisdom wealth is worth- 
less, 38. 

wit's end, at one's (P. PL B. 15. 
363), 181. 



woe to him that is alone {A. R. 

252), 151- 
wolves rend sheep when the 

shepherd fails (P. PI. C. 10. 

267), 260. 
woman the confusion of man, 256. 
women naturally deceive, weep, 

and spin, 267. 
women's counsels are cold, 257. 
(a) wood hath ears, 216. 
(the) word should suit the deed, 

212. 
world's a fair, the (C. A. prol. 

454), 205. 
wrath as the wind, 121. 



OXFORD 

PRINTED AT THE CLARENDON PRESS 

BY HORACE HART, M.A. 

PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY 



CANTERBURY TALES 121 

284 ^ 

Ne every appel that is fair at ye -^ '^' * 

Ne is nat good, what-so men clappe or crye. 

a r, G 964-5. 

{at ye, at eye, to look on ; elapse, loudly assert.) 

An eppel i-heovved, with-uten feire and frakel with-innen. (An 
apple of bright hue, fair without and rotten within.) — Old Eng. 
Homilies, ed. Morris, Ser. i, p. 25. 

Mony appel is bryht withute, and bitter withinne. — Prov. of 
Alfred, A 306. 

Rothe Aepfel sind auch faul. — D. i. 107. 

A goodly apple, rotten at the htzxt.— Merchant of Venice, 
i. 3. 102. 

Nee pulcrum pomum quodlibet esse bonum (see no, 206). 
D. i. 107. 

285 

Ful sooth it is, that swich profred servyse 
Stinketh, as witnessen thise olden wyse. 

C.T.,Q 1066-7. 

Merx ultronea putet {apiid Hieronymum). — Ray. 
Marchandise offerte est k demi vendue. — Ray. 
Angebotene Hiilfe hat keinen Lohn. — D. i. Z6. 
Bodin geir stinks. — Scotch Proverb (Ray). 
See no. 138, to the like effect. 

— Was never brid gladder, &c. — C. T., G 1342. 

See no. 223. 

286 

O ! fy ! for shame ! they that han been brent 

Alias ! can they nat flee the fyres hete ? 

C. T.,Q 1407-8. 

Brend child fur dredeth. — Hending, st. 24. 
(The burnt child dreads fire.) 



122 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Sare man aght to dred the brand 
That brint him forwit in his hand. 

Cursor Mtmdi^ 7223. 
{Sare, sore ; aght, ought ; brint, burnt ; forwit, previously.) 
Brent child of fyr hath muche drede. — Romaunt of the Rose, 
1820. 
Brennyd cat dredith {Qir.— Tale of Beryn, 78. 
The y-bernde uer dret. — Ayenbite of Iniuyt, p. 1 16. 
(The burnt one dreads fire.) 

Chat eschaudd craint Peau froide ; Prov. The scalded cat 
fears water though it be cold. — Cotgrave, F. Dictionary . Cf. 
D. i. 531. 

None knowes the danger of the fire more then he that falles 
into it. — The London Prodigall, A. i. sc. i. 

287 

. . . For bet than never is late; 
Never to thryve were to long a date. 

C, Zl, G 1410-11. 

Better late than never. — Proverb. 

Never is a long term. — Proverb (Hazlitt). 

Vyce to forsake ys better late than neuer. — Lydgate, Assembly 
of Gods, 1204. 

Never too late, if Faustus will repent. —Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, 
A. ii. sc. 3. 

Cf. Betere is er then to late. — Ancren Riwle, p. 340. 

See no. 27. D. i. 204. 

288 

Ye been as bolde as is Bayard the blinde, 
That blundreth forth, and peril casteth noon. 

C. T., G 1413-4. 

{forth, onward ; casteth, considers, fears. Bayard was a 
common colloquial name for a horse.) 



CANTERBURY TALES 123 

Thay blustered [wandered about] as blynde as Bayard was 
euer. — Alliterative Poems, B 886. 

For blynde Bayarde cast peryll of nothynge 
Tyll that he stumblyng falle amydde the lake, 

Lydgate, Storie of Troye, Book v, ed. 1555, sig. Eeii. 
Bot as Baiard, the blinde stede, 
Till he falle in the dich amidde, 
He goth ther [ivhere] no man vvol him bidde. 

Gower, Conf. Amant. vi. 1280. 

Bayard-like, blind, overweaning. — King Edw. Ill, A. iii. sc. i. 

Naething sae bauld as a blind mear \^inare\ — Hislop, Scot. 
Pro7'erbs, 

289 
Dun is in the myre. — C. Zl, H 5. 

But elles, siker, Don is in the myre. — Hoccleve, De Regimine 
Principum, 2384. 

Dun is in the myre, dame, reche me my spur. — Skelton, 
Garland of Laiirell, 1 43 3. 

If thou art Dun, we'll draw thee from the mire. — Romeo and 
Juliet, i. 4. 41. 

Who has dragged your dunship out 0' th' mire. — Butler, 
Hudibras, iii. 3. 1 10. 

{Dun, a dun horse. There was an old Christmas-game, 
called drawing Dun out of the mire, in which a heavy log was 
dragged along by the players.) 

I see I'm bom still to draw dun out o' the mire for you ; that 
wise beast will I be. — Webster, Westward Ho, ii. 3. 

Dun's i' th' mire; get out again, how he can. — Beaum. and 
Fletcher, Woman-hater, iv. 2. 

And all gooth bacward, and Don is in the myr. — Excerpta 
Historica, p. 279. 

— The wyse Plato seith, &c. — C. T., H 207. 
See no. 212. 



124 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

— The firste vertu, &c.— C 7!, H 332. 
See no. 174. 

290 

The Fleming seith, and lerne it, if thee leste, 
That litel jangling causeth muchel reste, 

C. T.,H 349-50. 
Little said is soon amended, and in little meddling cometh 
great rest. — Two Angty Womcft of Ahington, A. iii. sc. 2, 
Compare also: — 

Gret reste stant in litel besinesse. — Truth, 10. 
After jangling wordes cometh ' huissht ! pees ! and be stille! '— 
T. Usk, Testament of Love ^ i. 5. 90. 
Cf. Loke that thu ne be thare 

Thar chavling beth and cheste yare ; 
Let sottes chide and vorth thu go. 

Owl and Nightingale, 295. 
(thare Thar, there where : chavling, chattering ; cheste, dis- 
puting ; yare, ready ; sottes, fools; vorth, forth.) 
Little said, soon amended (Hazlitt). 

291 

Thing that is seid, is seid; and forth it gooth. 

C. T„ H 355. 

Et semel emissum uolat irreuocabile uerbum. — Horace, Ep. 
i. 18.71. 

292 

The proverbe seith : — that many smale maken a 
greet. — C, Z*., I 362. 

For many smale maketh a grete. — Robert of Brunne, Handlyng 
Sytine, 2366. 

Adde parum paruo, magnus aceruus erit. — D. ii. 554. 

Many littles make a mickle. — Camden. 



CANTERBURY TALES 125 

The drops are infinite that make a floud. — King Edw. Ill, 
A. iv. sc. 4. 59. 

De minimis granis fit maxima summa caballo. — Hampole, 
Prick of Conscience, 3417. 

Ofte, as me seith, of lutel wacseth muchel. — Ancren Riwle, 

p. 54. 

(Often, as one says, from little grows much.) 

Muchel kumeth of lutel.—/.;/. p. 296. 

(Much comes of little.) 

Mony littles mak a muckle. — Hislop. D, ii. 554. 



293 

And ofte tyme swiche cursinge wrongfully retorneth 
again to him that curseth, as a brid that retorneth again 
to his owene nest. — C. T., I 620. 

Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to 
roost. — Southey, Motto to Cttrse of Kehama (from late Greek). 
For curses are like arrowes shot upright. 
Which falling down light on the shuter's head. 

Arden of Fevershajn, iv. 4. 40-1. 
Cf. Proverbs of Alfred, 84 (no. 37). 

294 

Who-so toucheth warm pich, it shent his fingres.— 
C. T., I 854. 
{shent, harms, defiles.) 

Who-so handlyth pycche wellyng hote, 
He shal haue fylthe therof sumdeyl. 

Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 6578. 
{wellyng hote, boiling hot ; sumdeyl, in some degree.) 



<y 



126 GEOFFREY CHAUCER 

Therfore seith the wise man, he that handlith pich schal be 
foulid therof. — Wyclif, Wor^s, ed. Matthew, 218. 
(/>u/t, pitch ; foiilid therof, defiled thereby.) 
They that touch pitch will be defiled. — Much Ado, iii, 3. 60, 
All from Ecclus. xiii. I. D. ii. 209. 

295 

Holy writ may nat been defouled, na more than the 
Sonne that shyneth on the mixen. — C. T., I 911. 
{sonne, sun ; mixen, dung-hill.) 

The sunne, hys feyrnes neuer he tynes, 
Thogh hyt on the muk-hepe shynes. 

Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 2299. 
Then did the sun on dung-hill shine. — Merry Wives, i. 3. 70, 
The sun is never the worse for shining on a dung-hill (Hazlitt). 
The sun is nae waur for shining on the midden. — Hislop. 



JOHN WYCLIF 

A few Proverbs or proverbial expressions occur in the Prose 
Works of Wyclif, as printed in two separate selections. These 
are :— (i) Seleci English Works of John Wyclif, ed. T. Arnold, 
Oxford, 1 87 1, 3 vols. ; and (2) The English Works of Wyclif 
hitherto unprinted, ed. F. D. Matthew, E.E.T. S., 1880. 

296 

Hou schulde God approve that thou robbe Petur, 
and gif this robber [i]e to Poule in the name of Crist ? 
— Works ^ ed. Arnold, iii. 174. 

{gif give ; robber{i)e, result of the robbery.) 

See N. E. D., s.v. Peter, § 2 ; and the note below, p. 136. 

Descouvrir S. Pierre pour couvrir S, Paul, to borrow of 
Peter to pay Paul.— Cotgrave, F. Dictionary. D. i. 71. 

297 

As a horce unrubbed, that haves a sore back, 
wynses when he is oght touched or rubbed on his 
rugge. — Works ^ ed. Arnold, iii. 231. 
(wynses, winces ; rugge, back.) 

For trewely, ther is noon of us alle, 
If any wight wol clawe us on the galle, 

That we nil kike. 

Chaucer, C. T., D 939. 

(clawe, scratch, rub ; That we nil kike, but that we will kick.) 
Let the galled jade wince ; our withers are unwrung. — Hamlet, 
iii. 2. 253. 



128 JOHN WYCLIF i 

For I know none [no women] will winch except she bee 
gawlded, neither any be offended unlesse she be guiltie. — Lyly, 
Etiphues, p. 119. 

298 

Many men of lawe . . . bi here suteltes turnen the 
cat in the panne. — Works^ ed. Arnold, iii. 332, 

There is a cunning, which we in England call The Turning of 
the Cat in the Pan ; which is, when that which a Man sayes to 
another, he laies it as if Another had said it to him. — Bacon, 
Essay 22 (Of Cunning). See the note, p. 137. 



299 

Charite schuld bigyne at hem-self. — Works ^ ed. 
Matthew, 78. 

{bigyne, begin ; hem-self themselves.) 

Charity and beating begins {sic) at home. — Beaum. and 
Fletcher, Wit without Money, v. 2. 

Adapted from i Tim. v. 8. D. ii. 40. 

Charity begins at home first. — Clarke, Parcemiologia, 1639 ; 
cited by Hazlitt, who adds (from Ray), Self-love is the measure 
of our love to our neighbour. 

300 

With hook or with crok. — Works, ed. Matthew, 250. 

(By hook or by crook ; in one way or another.) See N.E.D. 

They sillen sacramentis . . and othere spiritualty, . . and 
compellen men to bie alle this with hok or crok. — Works, 
ed. Arnold, iii. 331. 

{sillen, sell ; spiritualty, spiritual things ; bie, buy.) 



JOHN WYCLIF 129 

Nor vvyll [they] suffre this boke 
By hoke ne by croke 
Prynted for to be. 

Skelton, Colyn Chute, 1240. 

By one meanes therfore or by other, either by hooke or 
crooke. — Robinson, tr. of More' s Utopia, 41. 

301 

Thei faren ofte as don doggis in a poke. — Works, 
ed. Matthew, 319. 

(They behave often like dogs in a bag, i. e. they quarrel and 
fight.) 

Than shulde pees be in the Chirche vvithouten strif of doggis 
in a poke. — Works, ed. Arnold, ii. 358. 

They walwe as doon two pigges in a poke. — Chaucer, C. T., 
A 4278. 

{walwe, wallow or roll about, struggle, wrestle.) 

302 

■ It is yuel to kepe a wast hors in stable, . . . but it is 
worse to have a woraman at racke and at manger. — 
Works, ed. Matthew^ 435. 

A queane co-rivall with a queene .'' 
Nay, kept at racke and manger ? 

Warner, A/biofi's England, viii. 41. st. 46. 
{at rack and manger, in the midst of abundance or plenty, 
wanting for nothing.— iV. E. D.) 

And keepe not a iade at rack and maunger ; quoted in Hazlitt, 
Early Poptilar Poetry, iv. no. 



SliEAT. E.E.I'. K 



NOTES 

2. The converse of this Proverb occurs in the following : 
' One dramme of ioy must haue a pound of care.' — Locrine, A. 
iv. sc. I. 102. 

6. Compare the following : 

Ne ilef \\x neuer })ane mon ))at is of feole speche, 
Ne alle ))e |>inge |)at })u iherest singe. 

Prov. of Alfred, A 352-5. 

19. The equivalent forms in D. i. 129 show the sense more 
clearly. For example, we find in late Latin— Est oculo gratum 
speculari semper amatum. And in Italian — Dov' e I'amore, la 
e I'occhio ; i. e. where love is, there is the eye ; or, thither is the 
eye directed. 

20. Compare the following : 

Monymon wenejj ))at he wene ne ))arf, 

Freond \aX he habbe })ar me him vayre bi-hat ; 

SeyJ) him vayre bivore, and frakele bihynde. 

Prov. of Alfred, 344-9. 
Take heed of thy friends.— Ecclus. vi. 13. 

21. In the Ancrcn Riwle, p. 120, we find a similar proverb, 
expressed in remarkable terms. * Wreththe is a uorschuppild,' 
&c. ; i. e. Wrath is a sorceress (lit. a transformer), as is said in 
stories ; for it bereaveth and depriveth man of his right under- 
standing, and changeth his whole countenance, and transforms 
him from man into beast's nature. 

But, as the poet sings, let your displeasure 
Be a short fury, and go out! 

Beaum. and Fletcher, The Scornftel Lady, iii. 2. 
24. At length the water with continuall drops 
Doth penetrate the hardest marble-stone. 

Locrine f ii. i. 3. 

SKEAT, E. E.P. K % 



132 NOTES 

To the three words quoted from Ovid were added, in medieval 
Latin, the words: — non ui sed saepe cadendo. See Biichmann, 
who also quotes, from Choerilus of Samos, the line : — jreTprjv 
KoiXalvei pavh vdaros ev8f\exfLll, the drop of water hollows OUt 
the rock by continuance. But 'the waters wear the stones' 
occurs as early as in Job, xiv. 19. 

26. In an Anglo-Saxon homily, printed in Hcrrig's Afchiv, 
cxxii. 259, we find: — Nu-))a sceal aslc mon, })aet he to Gode ge- 
cyrre ))a hwile \& he mjege, \& Ises, gif he nu nelle |)a hwile })e 
he maege, eft ))onne he late wille, ))set he ne maege ; i.e. Now 
then every man ought to turn to God while he may, lest, if he 
now will not while he may, he afterwards may not, when he at 
last will. The editor (Max Forster) points out that the original 
of this occurs in St. Augustine, Sermon 224, ch. 4 (ed. Migne, 
xxxviii. 1095), in the following form : — Corrigant se, qui tales 
sunt, dum vivunt, ne postea velint et non possint. Cf. Isaiah, Iv. 6. 

3a. Qui bien chante et qui bien danse 

Fait un metier qui peu avance. 
P. M. Quitard, Dictionnaire des Proverbes, p. 2S9. 

39. Nee coneris contra ictum fluuii.— Ecclus. iv. 32 (Vulgate). 
Cf. Juvenal, Sat. iv. 89. 

40. Be wise and ware ; wake, or ye wink, 
And tel not your wife all that ye think. 

Schole-house of Women, 90S ; in Hazlitt's 
Early Popular Poetry, iv. 140. 

43. A barking dog doth sildome strangers bite. — Locrine, iv. 
I. 120. 
47. See examples of Fish-whole in the A^. E. D. 
60. One mischiefe followes on anothers necke. — Locrine, v. 4. 
242. 

Abilqualit. 'Tis so ; afflictions 

Do fall like hailstones ; one no sooner drops 
But a whole shower does follow. 

Chapman (?), Revenge for Honour, ii. I. 



NOTES 133 

61. You cannot make a silk purse of a sow's ear (Hazlitt). 

62. Death is better than a bitter Hfe. — Ecclus. xxx. 17. 
Better tine [lose] life, since tint is good fame.— Scott, Heart 

of MidlotJiian, ch. vii. 

Melius virtute mori quam per dedecus vivere.— C. Tourneur, 
Revenger's Tragedy, i. 4. 

64. Les jours se suivent et ne se ressemblent pas. — C. de 
M^ry, Histoire des Proverbcs, i. 279, He refers to Hesiod, who 
calls one day ' a stepmother ', and another ' a mother '. 
— Few are wise in days : 
One cruel as a stepmother we find. 
And one as an indulgent mother kind. 
T. Cooke, tr. of Hesiod' s Works and Days, bk. iii (end). 

67. Dimidium facti qui coepit habet.— Horace, Episf. i. 2.40. 

But in proverbe I have herd seye 
That who that wel his werk begynneth 
The rather a good ende he wynneth. 

Gower, C.A.prol. 86*. 

78. Marry in haste, and repent at leisure (Hazlitt). 

79. Malicious tunges, though they haue no bones, 
Are sharper then swordes, sturdier then stones. 

Skelton, Against Venemous Tongues; ed. Dyce, i. 1 34. 

Tunge brekith boon, al if the tunge himself have noon. — 
Wyclif, Works, ed. Arnold, ii. 44. 

Ha ! wicke tunge, wo thee be ! 
For men sein that the harde bon, 
Althogh himselven have non, 
A tunge brekth it al to pieces. 

Gower, C. A. iii. 462. 

81. Attributed, in the Owl and Nightingale, to king Alfred. 
gi. Ray's note, that this is a Yorkshire proverb, is confirmed 
by its appearance (twice) in the Towneley Mysteries, ii. 435 ; 



134 NOTES 

and xiii. 587, The latter instance runs thus : — Ille spon weft, 
i-wys, ay commys foulle owte. 

103. The stone that is rolling can gather no mosse. — Tusser, 
Husba}idfie, (E. D. S.), jy. 20. 

117. . . they [women] relish much of scorpions ; 

For both have stings, and both can hurt and cure too. 
Beaum. and Fletcher, Custom of the Country, v. 5. 
'Tis true, a scorpion's oil is said 
To cure the wounds the vermin made. 

Butler, Hjtd:bias, iii. 2. 1029. 

118. Yuel frute witnessith yuel rote [root].— Wyclif, Works, 
ed. Matthew, 331. 

119. And choicest fruits, too soon pluck'd, rot and wither. — 
Massinger, A Neiu Way, iii. 2. 

Musk-melons are the emblems of these maids ; 

Now they are ripe, now cut them— they taste pleasantly, 

And are a dainty fruit, digested easily : 

Neglect this present time, and come to-morrow, 

They are so ripe, they are rotten— gone ! 

Beaum. and Fletcher, Wildgoose Chase, i. 3. 
— make him ripe too soon. 
You'll find him rotten in the handling. 

Id. The Captain, i. 2. 

123. Well, as he brews, so shall he drink. — Ben Jonson, Every 
Man, ii. 2. 35. 

As she has brewed, so let her drink. — Chapman, Eastward 
Ho, iv. I {Touchstone). 

127. More exactly : — idque Socratem audio dicentem, cibi 
condimentum esse famem, potionis sitim. — Cicero, de Finibus, 
ii. 28. 90. 

Make hunger thy sauce, as a medcine for helth. — Tusser, 
Hiisbaiidrie, (E. D. S.), 10. 17. 

130. The which, bicause they take chalke for cheese, shall 
never trouble me.— Gascoigne, Works (ed. Hazlitt), i. 9. 



NOTES 135 

132. For who so heweth ouer hye, 

The chippes wyll fall in his eye. 
Parlanient of Byrdes, 183; in Hazlitt's Early 
Poptdar Poetry, iii. 177. 

148. In my edition of Chaucer's Works, ii. 160, the line is 
given as it stands in the Campsall MS., viz. — ' But alday falleth 
thing that foles ne wenden ' ; i.e. but things continually fall out 
such as fools did not expect. But the alternative reading in the 
other MSS., which I here follow, is far better, and is rendered 
almost certain by the fact that Usk, who often servilely follows 
Chaucer, actually has the reading cited at p. 61. Compare also 
the quotations from Barbour and Shakespeare. 

149. Rather to bowe than breke is profytable ; 
Humylite is a thyng commendable. 

Morall Proverdes of Cristyne (in Pynson's 2nd ed. 
of Chaucer, fol. e 4, back). 

152. The medieval Latin proverb — ' Solamen, tScc.,' — is also 
quoted in this form by Beaumont and Fletcher, in The Scornful 
Lady, ii. I. 

155- This 

Is still the punishment of rashness — sorrow. 

Beaum. and Fletcher, Beggar's Bush, ii. 3. 

The hasty person never wants woe, they say. — Chapman, 
Eastward Ho, v. i. 

A hasty man never wants woe. — Two angry Women of 
Abington, iv. 3. 

158. So many lands, so many fashions.— Chapman, Alphonsus, 
iii. I. 

Ilka land has its ain land-law. — Scott, Heart of Midlothian, 
ch. 28. 

161. De duobus malis minus est semper eligendum, — Thomas 
;\ Kempis, De Imitatione Chrisii, iii. 12. In needful dangers 
ever choose the least.— Chapman, All Fools, i. i. 



136 NOTES 

169. Then, while the honour thou hast got 
Is spick and span new, piping hot. 
Strike her up bravely thou hadst best. 

Butler, Hitdibras, i. 3. 397. 

170. And yet in this you but pour oil on fire. — Massinger, 
Duke of Milan, v. i. 

171. Men geseo^ oft ])aet of anum lytlum cyrnele cym¥ micel 
treow (Men often see that from one little kernel comes a great 
tree). — vElfric, Homilies, ed. Thorpe, i. 236. 

173. A parallel phrase to ' bear the bell ' is ' to carry the 
banner,' i. e. bear the flag. ' In this ypocrisie thes mendinauntis 
[these mendicants] beren the baner for sutilte and feyned pouert ' 
[poverty].— Wyclif, Works, ed. Matthew, 130. 

176. Chapman quotes the Latin proverb — Felix quem faciunt, 
&c.— in his Hm/iorotes Day's Mirth, ed. R. H. Shepherd, p. 39. In 
the final Chorus to the old tragedy of Ferrex and Porrex, we 
find:- 

And happy he that can in time beware 
By other's harms, and turn it to his good. 

For happy is he whom other men's harms do make to beware. 
— T7V0 angry Women of Abifigton, iii. 2. 

Then happy is he by example that can 
Take heede by the fall of a mischieued man. 

Tusser, Husbattdrie (E. D. S.), 10. 36. 

182. After these storms 

At length a calm appears. 

Massinger, A New Way, v. i. 

184. See the poem entitled ' Merci passith Rightwisnes' in 
Hymns to the Virgin, ed. Furnivall, p. 95 (E. E. T. S., 1867). 

187. This passage from Chaucer is copied in Usk's Testament 
of Love, i. 2. 167. 

189. Fortune th' audacious doth juvare. — Butler, Hudibras, 
i- 3- 395- 



NOTES 137 

190. And setteth his soule upon sixe or on seauen, 
Not fearing nor caring for hell nor for heauen. 

Tusser, Htisbandrie (E. D. S.), 10. 60. 

196. Clora. Come, come, this is not wise, nor provident, 
To halt before a cripple. 

Beaum. and Fletcher, The Captain, \. 2. 

'Tis ill halting before a cripple. — Two angry Women of 
Abingto?t, iv. 3. 

202. Comming to Naples but to fetch fire, as the by-word is, 
not to make [it] my place of abode.— Lyly, Euphties, p. 72. 

203. ' Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan ? ' (but where are last 
year's snows ?) is the burden to a famous ballad by Villon upon 
Les dames dii temps jadzs. 

204. The seculer party may go pipe with an yvy lefe for eny 
lordeschipis that the clerkis wille yeve hem ayen [give them back 
again]. — Wyclif, IVorl's, ed. Matthew, 372. 

206. Something shall shew like gold, at least shall glister. — 
Beaum. and Fletcher, 77ie FtVgrim, iv. 2. 

21X. For, as they seyn that groundiden thes cloystris, thes 
men myghten no more dwelle out ther-of than fizs [fish] myghte 
dwelle out of water. — Wyclif, Works, ed. Matthew, 449. 

215. What must be, must be.— Beaum. and Fletcher, The 
Scornful Lady, iii. i. 

221. Well, that happens in an hour that happens not in seven 
years.— Two angry Women of Abington, iv. 3. 

226. Quantum oculis, animo tarn procul ibit amor. — Propertius, 
Eleg. iii. 21. 10. 

229. As he hath a colt's tooth yet. — Beaum. and Fletcher, 
The Elder Brother, ii. 3. 

231. Legem non habet necessitas. From St. Augustine, 
Soliloq, antmae ad Deitm, c. 2. 

233. No clerk ! What then ? 

The greatest clerks are not the wisest men. 

Chapman, Caesar, ii. i. 



138 NOTES 

240. Byde for tyme who wyll, for tyme wyll no man byde. — 
Skelton, On Time, 9. 

Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempos. — Virgil, Geo7-^. 
iii. 284. 

Eheu ! fugaces, Postume, Postume, 
Labuntur anni. 

Horace, Carm. ii. 14. I. 

262. For he is fire and flax; and so have at him! — Beaum. 
and Fletcher, The Elder Brother, A. i. (last line). 

266. Come, draw your sword; you know the custom here, sir, 
First come, first served. 
Beaum. and Fletcher, The Little French Lawyer, ii. i. 

269. The sisters being thus on all sides reiected . . . began to 
melt in their owne grease. — Gascoigne, Works, ed. Hazlitt, i. 474, 

282. He suld hae a lang-shankit spune that wad sup kale wi' 
the deil. — Scott, Heart of Midlothian, ch. 45 (end). 

290. And who wyll Hue in rest longe, 

Maye not be besy with his tonge. 
Parlavient of Byrdes, 125 ; in Hazlitt's Eaj'ly 
Popular Poetry, iii. 173. 

296. In Lanfranc's Science of Cirnrgie (E. E.T. S., p. 331), 
written about 1400, we find the expression — ' For sum medicyne 
is for Peter that is not good for Poul, for the diuersite of com- 
plexioun.' On which the A". E. D. well remarks that there is 
here ' a mere conjunction of two well-known alliterating names'. 
The saying was afterwards somewhat spoilt by the substitution 
of the saints' names, which (it should be observed) are by no 
means necessarily implied in the quotation from Wyclif, who 
uses the names in a more general sense. 

The A''. E. D. further quotes from Heylin's Histofy of the 
Reformation (ed. 1674, P- 121) to this effect:— 'The lands of 
Westminster, so dilapidated by Bp. Thirlby . . . the rest laid out 
for reparation to the church of St. Paul ; pared almost to the 
very quick in those days of Rapine. From hence first came that 



NOTES 139 

significant By-word (as is said by some) of Robbing Peter to pay 
Paul.' Few things in history are more pestilent than false 
guesses of this kind, which are usually repeated ad natiseam, to 
the confusion of the honest doubter and searcher after truth. 
The saints' names are first substituted for the common ones in 
Barclay's Egloges (1515) ; yet in Heywood's Proverbs (1562) we 
merely have 'rob Peter and pay Poule ; and again, in 1581, the 
phrase ' to uncloath Peter to cloath Paule,' which is a mere 
translation of the phrase which I have quoted from Cotgrave, 
and not at all applicable to Westminster Abbey. We may admit 
that a general observation was once applied afterwards to a 
particular case ; but this proves nothing as to the ' origin ' of the 
phrase. 

Even as late as 1771, I find Peter and Paul used in a general 
sense ; as follows : — 

Rackett. What a most contemptible cur is a miser ! 
Sir Christoplier. Ten thousand times worse than a highway- 
man : that poor devil only pilfers from Peter or Paul, and the 
money is scattered as soon as received ; but the wretch that 
accumulates for the sake of secreting, annihilates what was 
intended for the use of the world, and is a robber of the whole 
human race.— Foote, The Maid of Bath., Act. iii. 

298. Here again (cf. the note above) a desperate attempt has 
been made to account for the origin of the phrase ' to turn a cat 
in a pan ' by the false assumptions that the original word was 
cate, and that cate could mean a pan-cake, of which there is no 
known example. It is only too common to accept a plausible 
guess by way of solving, in a hurry, a point of some difficulty. 

It is clear, from the known examples, that the word cat applies 
to the domestic quadruped, and to nothing else ; and that to 
turn a cat in a pan was simply to turn her over and alter her 
position, which was looked upon as an operation requiring skill. 
We may suppose that she was comfortably occupying an empty 
bread-pan, and that a by-stander's skill was to be tested by 
asking him to alter her position without turning her out ; avoid- 



I40 NOTES 

ing her scratches if he could. It was evidently a rustic joke. 
Note that the usual sense was simply, to reverse a thing entirely ; 
hence, intransitively, to turn (oneself) completely round. There 
is an excellent example of the latter use in the fifth verse of the 
well-known song entitled The Vicar of Bray ^ which runs thus; — 
When George in pudding-time came o'er, 

And moderate men looked big, sir, 
I turned a cat in pan once more, 
And so became a Whig, sir. 
That is to say, he exhibited his cleverness by changing sides 
entirely. 

The quotation which I here give from Wyclif duly appears in 
the N. E. D. ; but is given under pan instead of under cat. 



I 



INDEX 



Each proverb is given in a brief form, and is indexed under a 
leading word. Some are thus indexed twice. ' After sorrow, joy ' 
occurs in P. PL ( = Piers Plowman), but not on pp. 42-51 ; and so in 
other cases. Alf. refers to Alfred's Proverbs; A. P., Ancren Riwle ; 
Br., Bruce; C. A., Confessio Amantis ; C. M., Cursor Mundi ; H., 
Hending; H. S., Handlyng Synne ; Hav., Havelok ; K. A., King 
Alisaunder ; O. and N., Owl and Nightingale; O. E. Horn., Old 
English Homilies ; R. R., Richard the Redeles. 



after a storm, a calm, 182. 
after heat comes cold, 145. 
after sorrow, joy {P. PI., B. 18. 

407), 154, 225. 
after woe, joy, 154, 225. 
almsgiving quenches sin, 3. 
anger is a short madness, 21. 
apple that's red may be bad 

inside {Alf. 306), 284. 
as fain as a fowl of a fair day, 223. 
as just as a squire, 274. 
as sound as a trout, 47. 
as water quenches fire, &c,, 3. 

bark little, and bite most, 43. 

bear the bell, to, 173. 

beat the dog before the lion, 280. 

beginning and ending, 46. 

beginning, everything has a, 163. 

(the) beguiler shall be beguiled 
(P. PL, B. ID. 190, C. 21. 166, 
385), 237. 

believe as you list, 6. 

bend Robin Hood's bow, 165. 

better a child unborn than un- 
taught, 42. 

better a sore eye than blind, 71. 

better an apple given than eaten, 

74- 
better bend than break, 149. 
better death than shameful life, 

62. 

SKEAT. E. E. P. 



better is art than strength, 8. 

better late than never, 287. 

better little with ease, 65, 

better soon than late, 27. 

bitter medicine, 183. 

blind Bayard, as bold as, 288. 

blind buzzard, in. 

blind man is no judge of colours, 

157- 
(as a) blind man starts a hare, 

208. 
bliss yields to sorrow, 193. 
boaster is a liar, a, 175. 
(as you) brew, so drink, 123. 
burnt child fears fire (//. 24, C. 

M. 7223), 286. 



(he) cared not a cress (P. PL, B. 

10. 17, C. A. 3. 588), 227. 
(the) cat catches mice like her 

mother, 41. 
cat in the pan, 298. 
cat that loves fish (C. A. 4. 1108), 

209. 
chalk for cheese, 130. 
charity begins at home, 299. 
chastity without charity, 106. 
cheaply bought, poorly sold, 88. 
child ; see good, 
chips fall in his eye, 132. 
cipher in arithmetic, 126. 



*^ 



142 



INDEX 



(the) cock crows on his own 

dunghill, 23. 
colt's tooth, a, 229. 
companions in misery, 152. 
consolation in misery is to have 

companions, 152. 
counsel better than strength (O. 

and N. 762, Alf. 641), 195. 
courteous as a dog, 109. 
covered fire, 162. 
cowardly to fly a falcon at every 

fly, 102. 
cripple ; see halt, 
curses come home, 293 ; cf. 37. 
cut large thongs, 86. 

dark night, glad morrow, 154. 
(some) day a strange thing hap- 
pens, 22t. 
dead as a doornail, 105. 
dearly bought honey, 89. 
death is better than shameful life, 

62. 
deceit, tears, and spinning are 

womanly, 267. 
delay does harm, 52. 
delays are dangerous {Hav. I352\ 

179. 
different countries, different laws 

iH. 4), 158. 
dog ; see beat, 
dog in a kitchen, 109. 
dogs in a poke, 301. 
dbgs that bark little bite most, 43. 
drink less, and go early home, 94. 
drink with the duck, 107. 
drops of water wear away stone, 

24 
drunk as a mouse, 214. 
drunkenness reveals secrets (C. 

^•.7229), 244. 
Dun in the mire, 289. 

-each country has its laws {H. 4) 
158. 



each man for himself, 213. 
embrace much and hold little, 

146; cf. 5. 
empty hand lures no hawk, 235. 
end, everything has an, 224. 
end of bliss is sorrow, 193. 
every goose has a mate, 264. 
every man's doom returns to his 

door, 37. 
everything has a beginning, 163. 
everything has its price, 268. 
everything is discerned by trial, 

63- 
evil against one's will, to do, 7. 
evil communications, 31. 
evil life has evil end, 59. 
evil to him who deserves evil (O. 

E. Horn. i. 41), 247. 
evils come not singly, 60, 
eye ; see herb, 
eye is ever turned to the grove, 

19. 
eyes that are troubled cannot see 

well, 252. 

(as) fain as a bird of the sun 

{P. PI. B. 10. 153), 223. 
\&) fair, this world is (C. A. prol. 

454), 205. 
false friends, 20. 
falsehoods of an enemy, men 

speak, 12. 
familiarity breeds contempt, 251. 
far from eye, far from heart (H. 

27, Alf. B. 554), 226. 
farewell, fieldfare ! [P. PI. B. i r. 

41), 180. 
farewell to last year's snow, 203. 
fat lands grow weeds, 120. 
father to the young, 9. 
field hath eyes, and a wood, ears, 

216. 
figs from a thorn, 118. 
fire and pride, none can hide, 

128. 
fire and tow {H. S. 7924), 262. 



INDEX 



143 



fire, if covered, grows hotter, 

162. 
fire, to add fuel to, 170. 
fire, to cast gruel in the, 177. 
fire, to cast the crock in the 

(/?. R. ii. 51), 177. 
fire, to fetch, 202. 
first come, first served, 266. 
fish without water, 191, 211. 
flatterers, 11. 
flatterers are false, 97, 
fool cannot be silent, 139. 
fool who forgets himself, 201. 
fool's bolt is soon shot {^il/. A. 

421, H. St. 11), 139. 
fool's intentions often fail {Hav 

307, Br. i. 582), 148. 
fools may advise the wise, 150. 
force against force, 230. 
forgets himself, he who, is a fool, 

201. 
fortune favours the bold (C A. 7. 

4902), 189. 
(a) foul bird defiles its own nest, 

28. 
(one of) foul brood remains so, 

29. 
Friday is unlike other days, 219. 
friendless is the dead man, 93. 
friends are lost in adversity, 254. 
(to) fry in his own grease, 269. 
fuel added to fire, 258. 

galled horse winces, the, 297. 
give a child all he asks, 98. 
give soon, and give twice, 210. 
glad morrow after a dark night, 

154- 
glass head must avoid stones, 

166. 
(all that) glitters is not gold, 206. 
God's will be done, 15. 
good beginning makes good end, 

67. 
good child is soon taught (//. 5, 

9, P. PI. B. 5. 38), 245. 



goose ; see every, 
grapes from a briar, 118. 
great tree, great fall, 172. 
greater sinner, greater saint, 156. 
greatest clerks not the wisest 

men, 233. 
greedy is the poor man, 76. 
guile for guile {P. PI. B, 10. 190, 

C. 21. 166, 385), 237. 

halt before a cripple, to, 196. 
hard to row against the stream, 

39- 

hare and tabor, 124. 

hare, mad as a, 272. 

harp on one string, to, 167. — • 

haste ; see judge. 

haste brings repentance {K. A. 
462, H. 32, 33), 155. 

(he) hastes well, who wisely 
waits, 155. 

hawk easily reclaimed, 44. 

hawk, not lured with empty 
hand, 235. 

he is free of his horse, 87. 

he that grasps at too much, 5 ; 
cf. X46. 

he that has no servant, 232. 

he that hews too high, 132. 

he that is untrue shall rue, 66. 

he that learns young, &c., 69. 

he that speaks well fights well, 34. 

he that stretches beyond the blan- 
ket, 122. 

he that will not when he may, 
26. 

he who builds his house of sal- 
lows, &c., 271. 

he who does evil must not expect 
good, 236. 

he who gives me little, &c., 80. 

he who sups with the devil, &c., 
282. 

he who will not take warning 
from others, &c. {K. A. 3029, 
3039), 263; cf. 176. 



144 



INDEX 



heads ; see so many, 
helpfulness brings success, 51. 
herb applied to the eye, 207. 
(the) higher the hill, the more the 

wind, 23. 
himself, each man for, 213. 
honey licked from the thorn, 89. 
honey, surfeit of, 250. 
honey with gall, 255. 
hook or by crook, by, 300. 
hope deludes fools, 48. 
hope of a long life, 95. 
horse ; see one may, &c. 
horse winces when rubbed on 

the gall, 297. 
hunger is the best sauce, 127. 

dleness, 13. 

f you see him first, his strength 

is gone, 35. 
11-spun web soon comes out, 91. 
ron is hot, when the, 169. 

udge in haste, and soon repent, 
248. 

keeping is harder than winning, 

185. 
kick against the pricks, do not, 

143. 

lamp unlighted, 106. 

lands ; see many. 

late ; see too late. 

law-givers must not break laws, 

242. 
let desire pass away, 70. 
let well alone, 144. 
life and death in the tongue, 17. 
life short, art long, 135. 
light as a linden-leaf (P. PI. B. i. 

154), 276. 
light impressions soon fade, i68. 
lightly come, lightly spent, 261. 



lion admonished by dog, 280. 
(a) little stone can upset a wain, 

129. 
little strife makes much rest (O. 

and N. 295), 290. 
long spoon ; see he who sups. 
(to) look like a lantern, no. 
lose part, to save the rest, 194. 
love and lordship will have no 

rivals, 220. 
love cannot be hid, 45. 
love is blind. 278. 
love is full of fear, 200. 
love's remedy is to llee, 136. 

mad as a hare, 272. 

make a rod for your own back, 

153- 
Malkin's maidenhood, 104. 
man proposes, 113. 
many a man sings, &c., 78. 
many, for wealth, wive amiss, 92. 
many lands, many customs, 158. 
many littles make a mickJe (A. R. 

54, 296, H. S. 2366), 292. 
measure is treasure, 25. 
men meet unexpectedly, 217, 
(to) mend himself, rii. 
-mercy surpasses justice, 184. 
misfortune makes foes of friends, 

254- 
more haste, worse speed (K. A. 

462, H. 32, 33), 155. 
more stars than two, 140. 
(a poor) mouse who has but one 

hole, 270. 
murder will out (C. M. 1083), 

246. 

naked as a needle, 116. 

nearer to church, farther from 

God, TOO. 
necessity ; see virtue, 
need has no peer {P. PI. B. 20. 

ID, C. 14. 45), 231. 
nettle in, dock out, 187. 



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